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Or so everyone keeps telling me. Now, to really impress me let's have it be 2017! It's the new 2014! Because that's how behind I truly feel. But hey, no whining. Life is chugging along, the writing is chugging along, and I have great hopes that someday I'll figure how to get a handle on this editing thing without really being able to see my words.

I had great hopes for the new year and my social media feeds, but in the end, it appears that I'm still putting my main focus on writing and learning appropriate visual adaptations in that area. Social media is fun, but if you love me, you email me or nudge me on Twitter. Anything else is hit or miss at best.

But enough about that, let's talk about you! How's your New Year going? Winter? Friends and favorite authors? What's ahead for you this year that has you excited? Take a sec and share what you're up to in 2017. Or, what year you wish it really was.

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Wheeeeeoooooooo! Before I start this post let's pause and take a deep inhale -- ready?-- Breath In--a little more--a little more---Hold it!  Now, let it go in a big whoosh, feeling your shoulders drop--E---x---h---a--l---e. Feel any better? I sure do.

Is anyone else saying "thank goodness it's almost September"?. Normally I'd be panicking up a storm so much time has passed already in this year. But, as you might have been able to tell from my erratic online presence, I'm ready for this summer to be over. It seems like Chez Munder has been racing around since the end of May, and baby, we're tired. It's been festive, don't get me wrong. But unlike a kid dragging their feet at the back to school sales, I'm eagerly anticipating the return of my regular routines.

Somehow in the midst of all the chaos I managed to produce a story available in the Dreamspinner Press One Pulse Anthology in September. More details on that will follow. But for right now, I just wanted to wave hello! and share a deep breath while I put away the flip-flops and get ready for fall.

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Can you believe it? We not only have power, but internet access AT THE SAME TIME!! Yeah, my sarcasm is showing, but man, it’s been a really weird 1st Quarter for 2016. And you know me, the best laid plans and all that.

On the writing front I’m *this* close to finishing final edits on novella #2 and. I’m a month behind plan, but with all that’s been happening I’ll take it, and be utterly grateful.

With all those good things happening I thought it only fair to share my favorite writing treat (and great fodder for m/m jokes) – a healthier version of our favorite no-bake cookie – no bake energy balls. This recipe is the closest I’ve found to what we make, except we don’t bother doing anything other than tossing the ingredients into a bowl and stirring. Food processor? Please. Toss everything into a bowl. Stir. Eat. Roll. Eat. Refrigerate. Eat. You get the idea. (correction: I should note that I have a vate of already ground up flax seed I keep in my fridge. I use a mini size coffee grinder and put the flax on oatmeal, peanut butter waffles, in smoothies - just about anywhere.)

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Writing Life2

Or at least with his insanely easy Artisan Bread with Steve No-Knead Bread recipes/videos on YouTube! So far we've tried the Oatmeal Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, Artisan Cheddar Bread, Classic White Bread,and the Turbo Honey Oatmeal recipes. And look! Pictures! I don't have a picture of the Honey Oatmeal because the entire point of making a Turbo recipe was to go from bowl to table in 2-1/2 hours, and yes! we ate it before the camera came out.
(disclaimer: I never claimed to be a decent photographer)

This stuff is so easy to make, and so darn good I still can't believe it. I've tried for years to become a decent homemade bread maker. Years. But yeast and I just never seemed to get along no matter how much I tried to proof and knead it into submission. So if we wanted fresh bread made of a basic 4 or 5 ingredients without preservatives, plastics (yoga mat chemicals people, yoga mat chemicals) or other additives I needed to use a bread maker. Which is fine. I loved my bread maker for years. But, I really missed the tactile, mind-soothing act of mixing.

Enter Steve and his No-Knead Bread recipes. If you follow along with one of his videos you'll see there's not a whole lot of mixing. Or a whole lot of effort period. But I *feel* like I'm a bread-making ace. And for my fellow authors? The proofing and baking times work as built-in Pomodoros.

Go ahead. Watch one of Steve's videos. Try it. Then come back and let me know what you think of this method. (and how it tasted!)

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mm - progress - Copy

December is speeding past and all I want to do is throw my hands up at the playlist of everything I still need to do that keeps running through my head on repeat.

Luckily, I can sit back, take a breath, and focus on this little saying that has helped me make it through 2015! Let me try that now …

… Okay, that’s better.

I’m not sure why December came on as such a surprise, or with such chaos. But instead of hiding under my blankie, I’m checking my list and pulling back to concentrate on the minimums I can get done.

Maybe I can’t get my whole workout in, but I can do 15 minutes. I didn’t have time to post two Free Kindle Pick o’ the Day posts on Twitter this week, but maybe I shared one. This blog post didn’t make it on Monday, but here it is today. I don’t have an hour to sit and edit, but you can make darn sure I’m getting 1/2 an hour of quality edits in!

Not a whole lot of perfection going on over here – but I’m still in the game, and still making progress. By letting go of my “got to’s” I’m freeing up room for more important things this month: Family, Friends, and the Joy of the present moment.

I’m also making time to visit and grabbing a free copy of her workbook, Unraveling the Year Ahead – 2016. It’s a great way to celebrate the progress (slow as it may have been) I’ve made this year, and prep for my goal setting/2016 planning session still to come. Be sure to get your own copy!

How’s your December going? Are you feeling the pinch and pull of too many to-do’s and not enough you? What carries you through the chaos?

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Happy Monday, y’all! Despite my best, finger-clutching efforts the months have sped past and the Holiday Season is upon us. Eeek! Are you ready? Normally I’d say I’m not, but I’m in pretty good shape this year!

*let’s pause for a celebratory confetti toss*

And while I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I’m happy to say I’ve also powered thru my writing every day for the last 36 days!!

*whoohoo! we’re making it rain confetti up in here*

Want to help me keep the momentum going? It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer looking for an accountability partner, or a fellow The Walking Dead junkie who refuses to accept Glenn’s dead. (Me!Me!) All you need is a Twitter account and the urge to stop by @ChrissyMunder and say hey! when you get a chance. Once a day, or once a week, it’s all good. Let me know you’re interested and I’ll return the favor.

You can catch me live most weekdays at 7:00 am EST, but let’s face it, some days we're hitting that computer right before bed. Especially when it’s family visit time. That’s okay, as long as we work on our WIP at least once a day and with encouragement I know we will.

Who’s game?

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Isn’t this the way life goes? I’ve been offline for what seems like *ages*. No really. *Ages*. I hop back on here in November and I’m flush. Excited. High off my successful editing efforts and ready to implement all of the nefarious plans that have been swirling around in my fevered brain. We’re talking Posts. Excerpts. Sneak peeks. Polls. It’s gonna be a blast.


My computer has just stuck its virtual tongue out at me.

All I want to do is backup my stuff to the external hard drive to close out the old month. Move some files around after that. Instead, I’m getting the dreaded right-click hangup and freeze.

Does it know I’ve been thinking it’s time to get a new one?

All those plans? Kinda on hold right now.

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No, that’s not a steam engine in the background, that’s me wheezing while I recover from the panic attack fueled by pressing “live” on my new website and transferring my domain and webhosting service.

Can you hear the constant chatter running through my mind? I think the refrain runs along the lines of: Did I do this right? Did I do that right? Will they delete this email? Does that look good? Urgh, that sucks. What was I thinking? Wait, did I take care of that thingamajobby before I removed the doowhicky? New software? Do I have time to learn how to do that? I really want one of those cool things. Oh crap, I need to work on that story revision, too!

Anxiety and exhaustion inducing stuff. I’m an author and a kitty mommy – not any kind of a tech gal, and damn it all, change is hard.  So what gives? After 8 blissful, ignorant years with my current domain and webhosting service I received notification that they were splitting up into different companies and rather than all my eggs in one tidy little basket – I was looking at multiple bills and companies and what I perceived to be a huge pain in my rear. Oh, and by the way? This will all take effect October 1st.

*cue me passing out* and then deciding that if change was coming it was going to be my choice where I changed to.

Would going with the flow have been as big a pain as rebuilding everything from scratch? (because, of course, the old structure/templates were proprietary and couldn’t be transferred) I’ll answer that question at the end of the month when transfers are complete and the old service is cancelled.

right now it’s a quick and dirty mirror of my old site. I’m sure I’ll be futzing and fixing and changing my mind another seventeen times on the look of the new site. Case in point? I imported my old blog and then realized that I wanted to start fresh with categories and tags going forward. Which means I get to delete a lot of what was imported. Go me!

Hopefully the change will result in a clearer, more responsive website for new visitors and old fans alike. Until then, bear with me and wish me luck!

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So what do you think of our July? We did a lot of work, but I'm happy we made time for fun as well. Plenty of West Michigan inspiration for my 5 novella series currently in the outline/rough draft stages. The new cottage is keeping us busy, but we still miss the old one and some of our close friends we made over the years. We took a drive up to say hello, and even though our visit was unexpected and we might have caught them during a nap we had fun catching-up.

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We worked really hard last weekend. REALLY hard. It was a very hot and humid weekend. The unrelenting sun offset only by periods of heavy storms. Nevertheless, we scrubbed the entire exterior of the cottage, including the gutters we cleaned out the weekend before. And we did it with long-handled scrub brushes - not a powerwasher for fear we'd damage the siding. Phew. That was a workout. I'll confess to more than a few "accidental" slips with the garden hose when rising a section off. Heart-stoppingly cold at first, but man, it felt good when we were overheated. Here's a brief glimpse at one of the storm fronts that passed over:

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Let's not forget the weekend we spent cleaning the gutters. Urgh. have you seen that commercial? The one where the guy is scared to get on the ladder and remove the evil gunk from his gutters? He's right. That stuff up in there *is* evil. And the ladders do have it out for us humans. Just saying. To reward our hard work we took the next day off and spent it visiting Pentwater, hiking the dunes at Silver Lake, and of course, grabbing a sunset at the Little Sable Lighthouse beach. Awesome stuff.

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Some of you may know we sold our faithful West Coast cottage after 15 wonderful years. It was truly our happy place, and despite my grumblings over the lack of cell or internet access, that was one of the features that made it so relaxing. But don't worry - the new West Coast cottage while improved, still doesn't have cell or internet service. Go figure. :) Of course, a new cottage comes with new work to be done, and work we have. How do we reward ourselves after a tough weekend of painting? Why channel walking and boat watching of course. The new cottage gives us access to not only 1 channel to Lake Michigan, but 3!! Plenty of inspiration for my 5 novella series currently being roughed out.
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An unfortunate aspect to my vision loss is not being able to see - much less read - ink on paper anymore. Hell, I can't even see the *lines* on paper anymore. It's an interesting position for a die-hard, list making pen and paper kind of gal to be in and something that has had a huge, frustrating impact on my writing process.

I started making my own "notepaper" with super big spaces separated by thick black lines on the computer and then printing them off. While not the prettiest solution - it works. But I still couldn't see my handwriting when I scrawled out a quick and dirty grocery list or more importantly, a story outline. I finally gave up trying, tossed all my ink pens into Mr. Munder's desk drawer, and started using Sharpie permanent markers. On EVERYTHING. They work. If I write large enough.

But (and isn't there always a but?) they bleed through almost every paper known to man.

If you take a look on websites for independent living aids you'll see listings for the 20/20 pen. I certainly saw them enough. But honestly, I kind of blew then off. What could they do my Sharpie couldn't? Well, baby - cue an audio clip from The Monkees (heh, listen here and try to get the song out of your head) 'cause I'm a Believer. These pens are smooth writing, dark enough to catch even my eye, and DON'T BLEED THROUGH. *sighs happily*

Now, if only I could do something about this damn double vision ...

How about you? Do you have a favorite type of pen you can't live without?
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April's "lost month" syndrome seems to have carried through into May. Case in point, this post which was due to be posted yesterday. You'll forgive me, right? My monthly focus for May is courage, and in particular how it relates to writing. I've never given thought to more than the old "I am, therefore I write", but in talking with several new-to-publishing authors I've had to take another look at what it takes to do what we do.

3 Ways Writing Takes Courage:

Corona Typewriter
image courtesty of Kristin Nador Flicker Wana Commons/CC BY 2.0

1. When we first take pen to paper we shine a light on our dreams. By doing so we risk failure, or worse. Those things we hold most precious are the ones we clutch the tightest. Sometimes it's easier to give in to our desire to keep our dreams safe and bury them so deep even we forget what they are.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.”
― William G.T. Shedd

2. Somewhere down the road we have to share our work. It doesn’t matter if it’s with a favorite teacher, an online forum, a beta reader, or (hopefully) a publisher. Sharing our work is hard, lonely, and one of the scariest thing a writer can do. Ask any author you know. Trust me, we’ll go on for hours.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
— Muhammad Ali

3. We have to be  honest with ourselves. Readers can tell when we are authentic in our work. We have to be willing to face the hard questions. Whether they deal with emotions and reactions for our characters, or why we are procrastinating when it comes to putting  words on the page.

Just be honest with yourself. That opens the door.
— Vernon Howard

But to me, the part of writing that takes the most courage is just when we think we’ve won the battle - we have to be willing to do it all over again.

I'm fascinated by this idea both as an author, and a reader. How about you? If you're a writer, what part of the process did you find the most difficult? Readers, do you ever think of what it takes for your favorite author to share their dreams?

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But then, there are so many good ones out there to read. Rather than going on and on I will say I'm satisfied with how 2014 went. Yes, there were some things that didn't come to fruition, but my goal is to celebrate what I did accomplish, not moan about what I didn't. I'm holding to that. Which means 2014 was a pretty damn good year, and not only because I was able to find both a regular bra and a sports bra that not only fit - but didn't cost an arm and a leg. Yeah, I'm still basking in that accomplishment.

2015 is starting on a positive note as well. I'm almost surprised my goals (both personal and professional) are tangible, written, and carefully spaced out in my zippy new binder. Wish me luck!

If working on writing craft makes a goal list in 2015 consider a course from Savvy Authors, or a free course from Coffee Time Romance. If the time commitment is a roadblock check out the archives at Coffee Time Romance with classes from prior years. You won't get the feedback, but you can read/work through the lessons whenever you have time.

Or if you've had enough of things with a writerly bent, but still want to stretch your brain cells, there's always my two favorites: AboutU and Khan Academy. Both sites are free, and well worth investigating. Khan Academy has even partnered with Bank of America to offer a course in personal finance education called Better Money Habits.

What went right for you in 2014? Do you have any plans for your New Year? What are you hoping to achieve? Go ahead and share so I can cheer you on with plenty of hugs and confetti tosses.
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Why yes, that is Aerosmith blaring over the speakers right now. The song seems fitting as I sit sideways in front of my computer (have to make room for fat boy and his pillow - sideways is the only way to go), and jump back into the rewrites. It's September!! Notice the dual exclamation points? Fall is my favorite time of the year, and September means crunchy leaves, amazing sunsets, cooler walks, and the joys of back-to-school sales at my favorite office supply store. Let me breathe deep and channel my inner Robert Duvall - yes, I love the smell of Sharpies in the morning - and shiny notebooks, pens, pencils, and calendars! OOOH! I love new calendars!

We planned to finish 3 outdoor projects during our rural vacation, and I'm pleased to say even with the rain we instead conquered 9. Including gutter cleaning, deck painting, garage emptying, bathroom recaulking, more brush clearing, and log cutting and stacking. Nothing like sweating your balls off for hours on end. We had a great time - sore muscles and all. Don't worry, there was plenty of shoreline joy mixed in with the work.

All that fun does mean I'm behind on my goal of finishing this rewrite - so I'm settling down and digging in. Thanks to this timely blog post over at Writing Forward - Seven Ways Your Physical Environment Can Help or Hinder Your Writing I have a new toy ... erhm ... tool to keep me on task. It's called Noisli - a free, online background noise and color generator. While I still favor, I like that I can mix and match my background noises (bonfire + leaves + train or wind + seaside), type in a distraction-free space, and then save my work to my PC. So here I go, off to rewrite with Noisli in the background.

What do you think about this time of year? Are you a Spring or Fall lover? If you write, does your physical environment impact your writing and do you have a favorite way to cope?
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Another week is galloping to the end, and I am, once again, woefully behind on completing my to-do list. While the obvious answer is to have a smaller list, some things simply MUST get done. I fuss at mornings such as today which while busier than *insert favorite busy cliché here* can't be considered very productive.

Time for me to buck up and accept I'm not going to reach my goal of having the 3rd Time rewrite completed by the end of August. Mainly because the Munder household is preparing to spend next week in the land of no cell, internet, or (sorry, [ profile] clarelondon,) room service. The high point might be our questionable electrical connection. But there will be plenty of land clearing, deck painting, and other forms of manual labor guaranteed to make us question our sanity. (Seriously, have you ever stood there and held the rope as a xxx foot tall tree slams into the ground barely a foot away while the man w/the saw whoops it up? Definitely questionable sanity.)

Which means this week has been spent gathering together all the goods necessary to sustain me, Mr. Munder, and the fat boy. Hmmm, I honestly think I'm bringing more supplies for him than I am for us. But, packing is proceeding and at least those checklists are getting ticked off. I console myself with the knowledge that were I going to be home next week I would get the rewrite finished.

In the meantime, here are some of this week's fun links that I've not had a chance to do more than look at:

 - A nice article courtesy of The Write Practice where Carlos Cooper shares The 9 Things I Did to Become a Full-Time Writer.

- Also via The Write Practice a gem from Joe Bunting who shares how This Writing Exercise Will Get You Unstuck Every Time.

- This one left me feeling modestly pleased as I took care of it a few weeks ago - How to Prioritize Your Writing Ideas

- Ever wanted to own your own lighthouse? I have. Here's link on how this Historic lighthouse near Mackinac Island could be your house. While the price seems quite reasonable, I'd be nervous on the cost of upkeep. But a gal can dream.

- To celebrate our week of storms, check out Slovakian photographer Tomas Hulik - he combined all the lightning bolts within an 81-minute storm into an amazing video and image.

- I love trying new yoga practices, and offers some great free, full-length videos to enjoy.

Have a great week.
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Does this ever happen to you? The amusing certainty when out shopping that the amount of stuff you'd love to buy is inverse to your available cash? You can also toss the desperate need (dress to wear to a friend's wedding, let's say) with which you need said stuff into the equation for added fun. Happens to me every time. The same can be said about the web. How is it the weeks I'm busiest are also the weeks where there is great stuff on the web I'd love to have time to read?

This is one of those weeks.

Since I've not had time to read through all I'd wish this week, let me share some of the links with you so I can enjoy them vicariously and find them again when I do have time. Yeah, I'm sneaky that way.

- An interesting podcast for us introverts: Four Reasons to Grow Your Personal Brand by Dale Callahan. Any post on personal (or author) branding that starts out "I'm the kind of person who likes to hide" is right up my alley.

- 5Tips for a DIY Writer's Retreat over at Writer's in the Storm. No intro needed for this one, and check out the porch in the picture of that log cabin. I would love to retreat there for a bit.

- Writer's,  Find Your Inner Guidance System at Writer's Fun Zone.

- Keeping it Simple - Guidelines for Writing Novellas courtesy of my favorite website, Romance University.

- How about this little gem? Why Writers Need Courage, (& 2 tips on getting It) via Time to Write.

There's a few more on my list, but I'll stop there and save them for next week, when the inversity rule strikes me in the other direction.
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Wheee! Welcome to the first blog post of August 2014. I'm a trifle giddy as I've just sat down and planned out my writing schedule for the rest of the year. *gulp* Maybe delirious is the word I should use?

Before I move forward into the month I want to reflect on what did and didn't work in July. I'm sharing because I didn't have time to cough up a real, more interesting blog post. Sorry about that.

On the plus side for July:

  • Stuck with my goal of writing a blog post every Thursday

  • Completed my rewrite of Stormy Weather w/an addition of over 8K words

  • Made more of an effort to be visible on social media - including Facebook which I find difficult, and have been introduced to some very festive folks and communities via Twitter.

  • Met my exercise goals for the month

  • Completed two craft seminars

  • Laid out my 2015 writing plan & added more detail on the a 5 novella series

  • Continued working like a stevedore/lumberjack w/Mr. Munder on the weekends. If the power company would get around to trimming the limbs twisted in the lines we could finish taking those trees down.

  • Weaned the fat boy down to meds once every 5 days and have him using the auto feeder again

On the minus side:

  • The more social I became via CM media the less real life social I ended up. It would be easier if more of my real-life-friends-I-want-to-keep-in-touch-with were actually on FB or better yet, Twitter. But they aren't, so I need to do a better job here. I always find this interesting. Y'all have smart phones - plug in to the net! :D

  • Missed a couple of Tues/Thurs postings of my Free Kindle Picks on Twitter

  • As always, exercise is easy for me - eating in a reasonable fashion is not. Definitely need to plan that better

  • My time spent reading for pleasure went down - but what do I honestly expect?

For a month that flew by at what seemed the speed of light, I'll count myself rather accomplished.

How did your month go?