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“Advent” project – help needed

So a few years ago I read something somewhere online about a cute thing for your kids – you get 24 children’s books and wrap them up and then each day of advent your kid picks a book to open and read. They could be books from your shelves, new books, all Christmas themed, whatever. Just 24 books, wrapped, and the kid picks.

And let me tell you, I loved that idea. I loved that idea so much, that I thought to myself, “Self, you need to write yourself a collection of books that you could sell as a package, except maybe they’re for adults, and maybe they come pre-wrapped, but they’re definitely 24 separate books.”

And that general idea has been swimming around in my head for several years. Sometimes I forget about it for a while. Usually I remember sometime between late October and early December when it’s too late.

This year, I’ve remembered in February.

So I’m starting to brainstorm this idea. Will it be novel-length, 30,000-80,000 word pieces? The answer to that is oh so very probably not. I’ve been stuck lately. Badly stuck. When I have managed to write, I haven’t been finishing. It sucks, and I hate it. So it will likely be short stories – 3,000-10,000 word things. Possible to write in the time available while A) pushing my current habits to grow into new ones, and B) keeping my sanity.

They will all need to fit the general theme of “advent“, since I’d like to market them as a lead-up to Christmas gift. They’ll need to be long enough – somehow – to merit publishing each one as an individual paperback, because even though I don’t think many people will want to buy 24-27 paperbacks for a Christmas gift. They’ll absolutely be available as a collection, too – paperback and ebook.

So here’s where I’d like some input.

I have a page full of words I associate with Christmas, Advent, and the holidays – probably 50 or so. Most are positive, some are just objects, and some are negative.

I would love it if you could help me add to my list.

I only have my experiences to draw on, and they are fairly average. I know not everyone has picture perfect holiday experiences and associations, and not everyone has the Christian background with the December holidays that I do. If you’re able and willing to drop a list of a few words in the comments (or more than a few words, to be honest), I’d appreciate it. The inspiration would be greatly appreciated.

I hope to start writing my stories soon – maybe not this week, but soon – and I hope to be done by July or August. Don’t be afraid to share words that are negative, and don’t feel like you need to explain anything to me.

Thank you! <3

Pink

I’m going to be doing the Blog All About It blog challenge by herding cats & burning soup because I stumbled on it through another author’s blog and it sounds like is a lot of fun!

February’s prompt is pink. This is kind of super appropriate for me because pink is my color. I’ve said for several years that the moment I don’t have to worry about getting fired for pink hair, the hair is going 100% bright pink. Not a shy pink, either. No pastels for me.

I am one of those women (and I was one of those girls) that loves everything pink. Pink clothes, although I stick to pink tops these days, pink notebooks, pink paper, pink pens, pink backpacks, pink dresses. I don’t particularly think it was because I was “supposed” to like that color just because I was a girl – my mom’s favorite color is blue, and while that always baffled me (blue is nice and all, but it’s not pink, man!), fine. Everyone has different tastes.

Some of my daily pink items

Please forgive the state of my carpet.

Those are my essential pink items. The phone case, watchband, pen case, and traveler’s journal go with me everywhere daily. The laptop sleeve/case is used any time the computer leaves the house, and the water bottle I’m trying to develop a daily relationship with.

And it probably should be mentioned that the pink pen case carries one pink glitter pen and one pink ultra-fine pen. No, those are not my only pink ink pens.

Eyewear

Of course. While the front of my glasses are a darker purple in an attempt to not be too flashy, the inside and the arms are a lovely, bright color that you can almost see in this photo. I wasn’t sure about these because the arms are also very thin, but I love them now.

Vital supplies

In these two boxes I keep a ream of lovely pink writing paper, and letter-writing supplies.

This is not the full extent of the pink in my home. Notebooks, a giant soft die, a 6″ binder with a double-spaced, fixed font manuscript inside, a blanket, pens (pink barrel and pink ink), and a caticorn’s horn are just a few of the pink things I can see at this moment.

Oh, and the toes of my socks.

I think what I’ll try to do for the rest of the month is find as many pink things in my life as I can, and I’ll report back with photos. My purse might be pink, but it’s also kind of red. There’s my coat which could charitably be called cranberry, but that’s not quite pink. But photos. I’ll grab them and post them, and create a lovely pink gallery because pink is the color. At least, pink is my color. I get it if you don’t love it as much as I do. It’s not for everyone.

Prompted: broken

gin. on Twitter has a Patreon and I’m a patron of hers and she sends me a writing prompt every Thursday. I’m going to try to use every prompt this year and publish them here, and at the end of the year I’ll stuff them together in a book and see if anyone will toss money at me in exchange for reading them all in one place.


I wish I knew what to say, but I don’t.

I never do.

“I’m sorry” gets old.

It’s never enough.

“I’m sorry,” I say anyway, because saying nothing is worse.

“You don’t have to apologize,” she lies.

I can be silent now that I’ve apologized, so I stare at my feet, which is a mistake. I can see the shattered pieces of whatever it is that I’ve just broken. Evidence of my unfortunate talent.

How do I know she’s lying? I can hear you screaming the question at me.

Because they always are. Polite words betrayed by sighs, irritation radiating off like heatwaves that cause the air to ripple in the distance. What else can I expect, though, when my mere presence causes such havoc?

I can’t blame them for being angry. They have that right.

I’m not just clumsy, you know. It’s more than that. I seem to invite fragile things to leap into the air and fling themselves against hard surfaces when I’m near. Floors, walls…bathtubs (more than once).

It’s a problem.

I’m so lost in my thoughts that I’m ashamed to say I nearly jump out of my skin when she puts her hand on my sleeve.

I’d forgotten she was still there.

She snatches her hand back, but her body doesn’t move.

My eyes stay on my feet, despite being startled, and so I see her crouch down to examine the carnage. The pieces catch the light and look like they want to dance, and she picks up some of the larger pieces to examine them.

“They’re perfect,” she says.

Wait. What?

“I can totally use these. They’re exactly what I needed!”

“What are you talking about?”

She picks through the sparkling pile and gathers particular pieces. They’re all broken, I can’t imagine what good they are to her.

I start again when she jumps back to her feet. She has ignored the smallest and largest pieces. They lay in the street, in the sun, evidence of my destructive power.

Damn it.

“Come with me,” she invites. She’s got her shards gathered in the pocket of her shirt so they don’t cut her hands. One holds the pocket together, the other beckons me to follow.

I’m curious enough to do it, maybe because once I offer a slight nod, she turns and starts walking and doesn’t look back to see if I follow. It makes me feel a little less intrusive. A bit less guilty.

She really doesn’t seem to mind.

Then again, maybe she’s taking me to a trap, where she can beat the price of whatever I broke out of me.

But she doesn’t seem like that type. She seems sweet and genuine, and yes, there’s no way to be able to tell that, but it kind of sits on her like a hat.

Or maybe an aura, but I can’t see those. Anyway, it’s just a feeling.

She doesn’t dart, but she doesn’t dawdle, either. She leads for long enough to make me think I should stop and let her go on ahead, to let the crowd swallow her up. I’m about as good at second guessing as I am at breaking things.

Just when my feet are ready to stop and I’ve convinced myself that she didn’t really mean it, and she was just being nice, she pauses. She looks back, and smiles, and hooks a sharp right into a doorway.

And because she looked and smiled, my feet keep moving.

She’s disappeared from the doorway once I reach it, and I’m as careful as I can be as I move through it. I’m careful of my elbows, and my feet. My hips tend to brush against tottering tables with expensive vases, so I keep an eye out for any of those.

I’m so busy trying to keep track of my parts and make sure nothing fragile encounters me, that I don’t notice the space.

“Over here,” she calls.

She’s across the room. I look at the expanse I have to cross, and then forget to be careful.

It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing to break – everything has already been broken.

Mosaics made of of broken pots and vases, and other fragile, breakable things cover the floor, reassembled from their pieces into illustrations of themselves. One doesn’t walk on art, but there’s no choice. The center path is worn smooth but is no less vibrant for that fact.

The sun falls through a window and illuminates a spot ahead, and I walk toward it. Toward her.

“I only get to keep the pieces that break,” she explained. “And I can’t bring myself to break them, even when they’re not usable.”

She gestures to a shelf, and I look.

Malformed mugs. Collapsed vases. Magnificently painted and fired, but imperfect.

“I can’t break them,” she says with a sheepish smile. “I love them too much, but when they are broken, they become beautiful again.”

Oh.

“I can help with that.”

January status

January didn’t go well.

I mean, it kind of did. I wrote a very short piece of fiction and posted it on the blog. I had a birthday and lived through it. My two kids are awesome and my family is as healthy as usual, and I got to spend some time with friends.

But I failed both with moving 20 minutes a day and writing 30 minutes a day every day of January. I hit maybe five days total. Does this sound familiar to you? It sounds like every single story I’ve heard from disenchanted New Year’s Resolution-setters, and it is not unfamiliar to me, either.

Here’s the thing, though. I failed, but I also succeeded. I went for several really great walks which felt amazing, and I haven’t done that in a really long time. I didn’t do it every day, but I did it a few times, and it was good. I wrote a bit more on a story I had thought would be done by Christmas, and those are words that my undiagnosed, depression-prone head wouldn’t have otherwise cared about getting done.

So a fail, but a win.

I’m going to not think about February tomorrow until February hits tomorrow, because today was enough.

What I will say is this: write more and move more are still good goals.

<3

Prompted: indulge me

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter lately and there’s a person there promoting her Patreon (as one does), which I have an odd fascination with, and she’s very motivational, and I thought…okay. I’ll be her patron for a small monthly amount because A) I can use some extra motivation, and B) it looks like she’s close to a goal and maybe I can push her over the threshold. (I didn’t, actually, but it was worth a shot.)

One thing gin. does is she puts on Patreon a creative prompt one day a week, and I’m going to start doing the prompts. I’m not going to edit them or think really hard about them, I’m just going to do some creating.

Buckle in.

Prompt complements of gin. (@showupforthis and showupforthis.com).

indulge me

“I’d like a room, please.”

“Of course.” clickity clickity “We have one room available tonight.”

“What kind of room?”

“The most expensive kind, with the softest towels and bed linens, and the largest shower, and the most luxurious bath.”

“Does it come with any free things?”

clickity clickity clickity “In fact it does. There are many free things. Would you like to activate them?”

“I would, please. Thank you.”

click click…stab “Very fine. Your free things will await you in your room. Is there anything else?”

“No, this should do just fine.”

“Very well.” click print whrrrrrr “If you could please sign over your firstborn child.”

scribble scribble…return “Here.”

“Lovely.” beam “I hope you enjoy your stay at our fine establishment. Use extension 9 if you need assistance with any of your free things, and extension 6 if you would like to spend ridiculous amounts of money for any reason. We would love to take your money from you.” lusty sigh

elevated eyebrow “Thank you?” back away…slowly

step step step step

finger trails on walls

slight finger waves toward surveilance cameras

step step step…button push

wait

elevator

step step step step

“I believe this is my room.”

“Indeed, it is.”

“Are you one of my free things?”

“I am.” blank face…no eyes, no nose, no mouth, just an almond shape meant to imply an actual face “I am your butler.”

“Will you open my door, then?” pause “Thank you.”

“Your room contains all the free things available at this ridiculously expensive level. Your free computer with six bonus monitors and faster than fast network connection is resting on the antique desk in the corner. The chair has been upgraded to the Special Elite Gamer Chair with Reclining and Waste Removal function so you never have to leave it if you desire.”

“That is a rather attractive feature.” face scrunch resembling disgust

“As I have been told. Your very tall and very large bed has been made with the sumptuously soft bedding – another of your free things – and a small elevation panel has been installed to assist you in getting in to your bed to sleep.” pause “However, taking in your height, it’s possible you may not need it as many of our patrons do.”

“That is a possibility.”

“Indeed. Continuing, the closet, just over there,” point “contains an entire wardrobe that is customized to your measurements that we received when you signed over your firstborn at registration, including – but not limited to – a ball gown and appropriate prescious stone laden accessories worth more than your firstborn could ever manage to pay back in its lifetime, a replication of every item of clothing you have ever worn, and a super suit.”

“A super suit?”

nod “In case you find yourself in need of disguise while fighting crime. We also received the most likely possibilities of what your superpowers would be by analyzing your history of entertainment consumption.”

“I hope it’s pink, with sparkles.”

nod “It may also contain a rainbow cape. I couldn’t possibly say.”

bounce excite…cough “Is that all?”

“Not in the least. There is a stash of money hidden under the bed in the event you need to ransom someone. A pile of passports and alternate identities are in the lower left rear desk drawer for every conceivable city-state currently in existance, and an additional one for The Place Where The United States Once Stood, if you’re feeling particularly,” pause “inclined to move your expiration date forward.”

“I am not.” thoughtful “May I keep that one as a souveneir?”

“You may. As a reminder, all free things are yours for life, provided you meet all 42-7 criteria in the contract you signed at registration.”

polite “Thank you!”

irritated “May I continue?”

contained “Of course.”

“Any meal you choose to order will be brought to your door in 30 seconds or less, by penalty of death, and your food selection is restricted only by your allergies. There is a full and complete collection of all published books ever in the Library of Infinite Shelving, and it can be accessed through that very narrow door in the corner.”

“That seems inconvenient.”

“The very narrow door is much larger than its description would indicate.”

scoff “If you say so.”

“I do. Now, please remember to feed the Norwegian Forest Cat that we have derived as your pet of choice, as I believe he may be quite hungry after 248 years of stasis and inclined to eat limbs that are not carefully guarded.”

“I will be sure to order for him, first.”

“And don’t let him out of your room, as he has already gnawed through my last good foot while I stood here giving your tour.”

glance “I will make sure to give you an ample head start.” snicker

“And do not, under any circumstances, get the pillow wet with tears. It invalidates your contract.”

blink “The blankets are fine, though, if I feel the need to cry?”

pause process pause search…zero results “The blankets are fine.”

“Then I will be sure to cover the pillows.”

“That is all we ask. Is everything to your satisfaction?”

“Indeed. I feel very…indulged.”

“And that is all we ever hope for. Please call me if you require my assistance with anything during your stay.”

“Thank you very much.”

pause “No, I couldn’t possibly accept your non-existent attempt to offer me gratuity. You are too kind.” sarcasm

“I do what I can. You are excused, now.”

“Certainly.” blip

alone silence perfection

“Brrrowr?”

irritation “How about an android foot for dinner?”

fin

2019 Wishlist

The first couple weeks of January have gone by, and we are officially past the halfway point.

Woo!

I’ve been thinking about the two goals I set for January, but am having a hard time keeping up with them. Nothing particular is getting in my way except myself and my own lack of willpower. I’m currently listening to The Power Of Habit and I’m learning some interesting things that might help me get back on track.

Enough about what’s not working, and get to the point, Nicki.

Okay!

I was watching to one of the many YouTube creators I’m subscribed to, and one person had a massive list of goals for last year, and I really enjoyed listening to her list the goals and add a Swedish-accented, “Check!” after each one. And really, I do have more than just two huge goals I want to accomplish. Maybe they won’t all happen this year, but also maybe if I don’t verbalize them, they’ll never happen.

And maybe I’m just generally full of crap. But I’m still going to share the list I made – here we go!

Random List of Things I’d Like to Do Someday so Why Not Now?

  • Start a YouTube channel
  • Read a book every week
  • Take a day off every month just for myself
  • Create a daily visual art habit
  • Do/Start a 365 Challenge
  • Finish my portion of the Jackman T book
  • Create a coloring book
  • Write 20 books in a year
  • Quit my day job
  • Get G’pa’s rose tattoed somewhere
  • Build a cat-proof Christmas tree
  • “KonMari” my things
  • Learn enough Yoga so I can practice in my living room
  • Do the A-Z Challenge in April
  • Publish my 2019 A-Z Challenge in May
  • Replace the living room sofa with a comfortable futon
  • Create a daily meditation habit
  • Go to one party at Sunshine’s house
  • Go to Diva’s summer party

I could go into detail on these, but maybe I’ll do that once I accomplish them. And they might not all happen this year, but what if they did? That would be pretty damn amazing.

I think I need to spend some time with this list. Do you have any suggestions for what I should add to it?

Thank you! <3

That Feeling

Do you know that feeling when your heart breaks because you’re so joyfully heartbroken? Maybe not. One of my closest friends just marveled at my ability to not only feel it, but express it.

I just read two short stories I need to share because of how many feels there are. And you may be hesitant because I mentioned some negative emotions in that paragraph above, and sometimes it’s hard to want to take a risk on something amazing if there’s a chance it can be sad in any way.

But if you’re willing to take my word for it, I point you to Zen Cho, fantasy author. She offers up to us not only a novelette she wrote last year titled If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, but also the coda to that work, a slightly shorter (but no less impactful) Head of a Snake, Tail of a Dragon.

Read, and I hope you enjoy.

Birthday skies

First

I’m going to be doing the Blog All About It blog challenge by herding cats & burning soup because I stumbled on it through another author’s blog and it sounds like a lot of fun!

January’s topic is First. There are a lot of Firsts I can talk about today, which makes today a great day to make this post.

Today is the First day of my new year because it is my birthday! I turned 41 today, and I’m almost as excited about 41 as I was about 40. I’m really hoping this year will be better for me personally than last year. Last year was rough in so many ways that I am going to purposely try not to go into. This year I intend to push myself to grow in both writing and fitness, to make uncomfortable decisions that I know are good for me, and to…do other positive things I haven’t thought about enough yet to include here!

As a slightly related side note, I was also the First baby born in the small Iowa town my parents lived in at the time. Sometimes New Year’s Baby’s are determined in minutes or hours instead of days, but it was a very small town.

Anyway!

Today also starts my First vacation from work for the year. I’ve taken two days off because I didn’t plan to take any time over the Christmas/New Year holidays (although I did end up with both Eve’s off), and today is the First day of that vacation! I intend on trying to take one day every month off of work, not necessarily to do something special, but to have a day which goes by at my own pace, with my own choices, and to do things I want to do. I will try to make them days the kids are at school, but if they aren’t, I can take advantage of the fact that my children are both teenagers and can manage without my constant mothering for a day.

I am the Firstborn child of my parents! I am also the youngest child because I am the only child. This was something that irritated me when I was little, but then I stopped caring about it, and lately, I’m very grateful for it. My parents both have siblings, my husband has more than 7 (but less than 9) siblings, my cousins all have siblings or step-siblings. It’s not that I crave being alone (okay, I do, but that’s not entirely related to this), but when the time comes, I believe I will have an advantage in being the only person who will need to make decisions. No arguments, just me.

This one is a stretch, but I just got my First pair of new glasses in four years today! They’re gorgeously pink on the edges, and more of a black-pink on the front, so as not to scare the other humans at my workplace. 😉

This is the First year that I’ve set goals or resolutions for the new year that I don’t particularly care if I mess up on. I mean, of course I will try to keep the daily goals I’ve set for myself, but I am going into this year realizing that I will not have ruined everything if I make a mistake. I’m going to get back on the horse/wagon/bicycle/blazing, sparkly, rainbow unicorn that farts candy and pick back up the next day! (I really like the unicorn image I have now. I wish I could draw.)

I think that’s all my Firsts today! I may have occasion to do more posts this month, but since I only set one reminder per month, probably not. But this was fun!

Thank you! <3

Goal 01R:2019 – Write More Words

Oh, hello there! I’m so glad you came back to read more – or that you found my blog and decided to start here!

It’s officially 2019! And with a bit of hemming and hawing; researching and borrowing of ideas; thought and letting the wine think for me; I have decided on how to make progress with my Write More Words goal for the year.

In the process of deciding what my goal should be now, I also came up with some ideas for future goals, such as daily word count goals, writing X novels in X days, and writing X short stories in X days.

But since my 2018 was fairly wordless, I am going to start simply in 2019 to get myself back on track. So for the first 31 days of 2019, my goal is to:

write for 30 minutes each day and end up with one publishable piece of any length.

January 1-31, 2019

Which I think is 1) very reasonable, 2) pushing myself to develop a daily habit, and 3) provides ample space to expand and do more.

Staying Accountable

To stay accountable, I will be posting on Twitter once I get my 30 minutes accomplished, maybe with an actual time written and a word count for the session. Cheers would be lovely, as well as check-ins to see how I’m doing, if you’re feeling so inclined.

Falling Off Track

So what happens if I fail and miss a day of writing, or don’t make time for the full 30 minutes?

I try again the next day.

I think about why I didn’t get 30 minutes of time – was I “just not into it”? Poor time management? Not waking early enough? And once I can pin down what happened, I work to eliminate that as an excuse the next day.

I don’t scratch the entire goal as a failure. I don’t beat myself up. I don’t delete the blog and go into hiding. (I’ve done these things, and they don’t help anything.)

So that is the plan! Help keep me on track, if you’d like, on my twitter – @nivixious. I’ll probably end up making a progress post or two here, as I really, really like blogging. Oh! And 30 minutes of blogging is not going to cut it, by the way. I’ve tracked my blog and fiction words in the past, and it felt like blogging “counted”. But since part of the goal is to end up with a publishable piece, nope. No blogging toward the goal.

I’m going to follow up on my Move More goal in a separate post, maybe tomorrow, so feel free to check in for that!

Thank you! <3

Goal 01F:2019 – Move More

I just finished my first goal for Write More Words post, and decided it was a good time to dive into the same post for Move More.

Hi! Welcome!

So exercise is something I have done successfully in the past. I’ve been able to lose some weight by following Body for Life and Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away the Pounds, I’ve kept regular trips to the gym in my schedule, and I’ve gone for morning walks.

But…okay, so maybe “successfully” is an overstatement. And “regular” would be for a couple months, and then not.

So I have exercised in the past, is what I’m getting at.

But since I really want to move more, I need an actual “regular” habit, and since I have very little habit going right now in movement, for this first goal I’m starting there.

Move for 20 minutes each day

January 1-31, 2019

I had on there “and end up with a daily habit”, but there’s really not any bonus content here. I just really want to move for 20 minutes. And I’m not going to limit myself to a particular exercise, since I really just need to start moving. Most likely my exercise will be walking, but it could also include yoga. I’m not shucking out any money for this right now, so I will not be renewing any gym memberships or buying new anything. I’ll be doing everything in the jeans and yoga pants and hole-riddled sneakers that I already own.

So if you read my Write More Words goal post for January, then you’ve seen the ways in which I’ll keep myself accountable already, and please forgive me for repeating them.

Staying Accountable

Again, Twitter – @nivixious. Also, since I love taking photos, I’ll try to get a good photo to post there from my walk or whatever way I decide to move. Maybe a YouTube link if that’s what ends up happening.

Falling Off Track

And again, there’s no beating myself up if I miss a day, especially since I know that if I miss an outside walk, or if it’s cold, I can do it inside in front of my TV while watching a video. But even if that doesn’t happen, I just pick up and start again the next day. I may not even keep track of my failures in terms of “I missed X days this month” because focusing on the negative is a really great way to get me to give up on things. (I am a bit of a perfectionist. You may not have known that.)

It’s a pretty simple plan because I want it to be so easy that there’s no way I can avoid doing it.

An interesting side note

I was talking about this goal with my kids before I went out to actually accomplish my goal for the day. I was saying how I’d done the Walk Away the Pounds program, and I still had the book. I actually pulled the book off the shelves, and then was bummed that the DVD wasn’t inside. (For some reason I expected the book to be in a paper envelope stuck to the back cover.) I thought about trying to order another copy of the DVD, but then went for my walk and forgot about that urge (thankfully).

And then I got back from my walk (which was chilly and my ears got cold, but it was otherwise nice), and I went back to YouTube (because I’m on a kick lately to consume as much creator content as possible for some reason) to finish the video I’d started about a woman who’d lost a bunch of weight, and then I started looking for other things to watch, and do you know what I found?

Leslie Sansone of Walk Away the Pounds has a YouTube channel.

What you focus on expands.

Ninja Selling

Thank you! <3