blogXspotlessXfridgeLately I’ve been trying to get one housework chore a day done, no matter what. Scrub the bathroom floor, clean out the fridge, wash the steps. Do one thing, and eventually, there won’t be so much darkness to curse–that’s the hypothesis. (Data is not yet voluminous enough to prove the hypothesis.)

Today, no housework was done. 

I also didn’t get myself onto the tread desk–not even once-t, not even for a mile. Tomorrow, I will do better, promise.

But today, no miles.

blogXwritingI made no progress on my newest Work In Progress, a story for Sir John Dewey Fanning (Jack to his friends), and Madeline Hennessey. If you write a thousand words a day, you’ll have a rough draft in about three months, which is what I need to do to get that sucker published in June.

No words for Jack and Maddie today.

I could on about all the stuff I didn’t do, forgot, half-did, and otherwise fell short on. Couldn’t we all? Today I dropped just about every ball I’m supposed to carry down the field. And yet…


blogXcelebrateThe story for Hamish MacHugh and Megan Windham is Complete in Draft (after a WIP comes a CID) at about 85,000 words. I have a long way to go with the polishing, fine-tuning, double-checking, and revising, but I’m across the finish line with the first, hardest, most uphill lap of the race.

You’d think writing a book would get easier after about the twentieth attempt, but nope. I’ve used up my backlog of clever ideas, trotted out my fave period slang, sprinkled in all the cool trivia I’ve been carrying around for years. Worse, I know a lot more about what makes weak prose, mostly because I see in in my published books.

happyXcatSo starting the manuscript for a new story is a terrifying leap, and every time, I’m SURE, this time, my parachute won’t open. Today, I landed safely, once again, smack on those two lovely words, “THE END.”

My house is not so clean, my step count is in the ditch, all other projects screeched to a halt, but I finished a book. Tomorrow, I’ll tear back into Jack and Maddie’s story, get on the “dread” desk, and… vacuum the living room. 

Except, it occurs to me, nobody is going to steal my WIP, my tread desk, or my vacuum cleaner, and it’s not every day another book is born. Maybe I should remark this occasion with some… celebration?

Now there’s a thought.maggie_244

When you reach a milestone, complete a project, survive a visit from the in-laws, or pay off a big debt–how do you celebrate? When was the last time you celebrated your own wonderful self and all the amazing things you accomplish?

To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, a story about a lady who needed to learn to celebrate her own wonderfulness.     

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29 comments on “After THE END

  1. CONGRATULATIONS!! I’ve been thinking of you and and your new challenges as a writer now that the cupboard is bare (so to speak) of past ideas and works. I’ve wondered if you felt that maybe you’d written everything you had in you. And then I thought, if you stopped writing right now, I would consider myself forever blessed by the works you’ve already gifted us. But, oh! How happy I am that you are continuing. 🙂

    For the really really big things, I take myself out to my fave steak house and enjoy the perfect, quiet meal with a favorite book. I have other rewards to pat myself on the back, but nothing surpasses the joy I feel just being with me and my achievement. The truth is, I seek praise far too often in my life – as an actor, I *am* addicted to applause – so the big things? I try to remember that my opinion and approval are what matter most.

    Of course, I go out for this dinner after telling everyone what I accomplished! 😉

    • I feel sorry for people to whom food has become a problem, because for them, nearly every ritual we observe–Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day–becomes fraught.

      Why not go out for a little feast? Why not do that cupcake run? Why not whip up one of grannie’s Yule logs?

      Works for me!

  2. Congratulations!! I am looking forward to Hamish’s story– the sneak peek was fun!

    I make a nice dinner and have wine to celebrate an achievement! Last year I bought myself flowers when I reached a weight loss goal.

    I bathed two dogs yesterday, dremeled 5 sets of corgi nails and cleaned and cleaned yesterday. More chores ahead today and a good book to read when I am done!

    Focus on the positive and congratulate yourself!! Your book is completed and the housework will get done…it always does!

    • Thanks, Sue. Somewhere I need to post that meme about, “What a tragedy, if my headstone reads: She kept a clean house.”

      Now I’m to google dremeling dog toenails. You do lead an interesting life.

      • I am reading the Kilts and Quilts books! Or, more accurately, I’ve started to read them. I finished “To Scotland with Love”, and I’m waiting for my copy of “Meet Me in Scotland” to arrive in the mail any day now.

  3. I have always hated housework, and yet, I hate things really messy. In my youth, I had a regimen whereby I would give up one of my weekend days to devote totally to cleaning the house – top to bottom. It would take the whole day. I would clean things that weren’t even dirty. At he end of the day, I would take a bath, and then fix a drink. I would sit in a chair, put my feet up, look around my nice clean house and say AHHHH! It was a very satisfying feeling.

    • I used to do what I called my Saturday rampage–scrub the kitchen floor, get after that bathroom, fold the laundry, spotless the counters, sparkle the fridge and cabinets…

      But then, some cat or dog (or child or me) would walk across all the pristine linoleum, and … undone. Two hours of work, and the pets hit Reset in two minutes.

      But yes, to live in a tidy nest is a good feeling…. as best I recall.

  4. Am excited to hear another Lovely Windham Lady’s story is heading our way. YEAH and congrads!!!! Now back to your question.

    Chocolate. Cheap chocolate, expensive chocolate….M&Ms, Godiva, Ghiradelli, Lindt…doesn’t matter, DOES. NOT. MATTER. A handful of chocolate chips will do if that’s what I have on hand when I deserve them!

    I buy whatever I see along the way in my quest to *get ‘er done* and then when I have, in fact, *gotten ‘er done*, I eat it. ALL. BY. MYSELF.

    After my In-Laws (lots o’ chocolate is deserved after that Swarm leaves), after I finish writing my weekly column(a handful of M&Ms IS once a week after all), and when I need to feel more like myself, my childhood favorite candy bar….Heath Bars!….waits for me. A simple reward seems, well, simple, but sometimes, especially if you have finished some drudgery or a mundane chore your must do, knowing there’s a treat helps them along.

    I can’t say knowing chocolate will be my reward helps me do things or accomplish things…..or actually accomplish them… any faster. But it makes me feel like I’ve done something wonderful……yeah, towels are washed AND folded AND put away!

    When it’s something BIG…well, it depends…..and it also depends if my husband is involved…..something good for his business (and it’s a family business, really) and we all go out to our favorite, expensive restaurant. And he insists we do the same for me too!

    • My paternal grandmother owned a candy store–yes, you read that correctly. She’d come visit every Sunday evening, and each kid got a small white paper back with a few pieces of candy in it.

      Amid the dread of the upcoming school week, and the sorrow that the weekend was over, Nana’s treats were a big consolation.

      Chocolate. I get it!

  5. I don’t think I ever have. Accomplishments while growing up were just what you were expected to do. Now I do celebrate my birthday – just surviving another year is definitely an accomplishment and my grown family makes sure I celebrate lol.

    • My family ran along the same lines, in part because there were just so many kids. Seven children make for a lot of piano recitals, Little League games, and birthdays.

      But in adulthood, I occasionally heard from my parents, “We love you, and WE ARE PROUD OF YOU.”

      Good heavens, does that make a difference. I hope my daughter hears the same message from me twice as often as she needs to.

  6. Congratulations, Grace!! I hope you did a bit more celebrating as a reward for finishing Hammish and Megan’s story! (Of course, the selfish part of me is doing a major happy dance knowing that their book is one step closer to my grubby little paws. 🙂 )

    What do I do to celebrate milestones? It all depends on what was achieved. Sometimes, it’s as simple as sitting down for an extra few minutes with a book and some chocolate. Sometimes its a nice meal out. We were actually planning way ahead just last night. Next year (2017) is a big mostly round number celebration year for the family: daughter turns 21; my dad turns 80; my mother in law turns 70; my husband and I turn 50; my in laws will have been married 50 years; and my hubby and I will have been married 25 years. Have no clue what the celebrations will be, but they will be big. 😀

  7. Hmm.. I have currently lost 32 pounds, I am half to my goal, I am giving myself a year to lose 64 pounds. I did get a free t-shirt when I lost 24 pounds. I have a fun event this month and March. I am working on one for April. I think you should celebrate when the opportunity arises rather than waiting for a goal to be completed. I think that puts too much pressure on ourselves to complete a goal and then we may be too tired to celebrate.

    • You make an excellent point–celebrating along the way makes the way much easier an joyous. That is more my style, rather than planning a big do.

      Congratulations on reaching the halfway mark. I need to set the goal you did, and then follow in your footsteps.

  8. I am reading First Kiss again. (I love love love the Knightleys!) Have a question for you. What are “underdoggies”?
    I hope you will continue stories that include these 3 brothers and their lovable families.

    • An underdoggie is when you’re pushing a kid on a swing, and you get the kid swinging so high, you can push it up, up, up and run right under it.

      As for the Knightley’s…. I glimpsed James in a couple scenes in a book I just finished drafting about a modern day Scottish earl who inherits a farm in Damson Valley…. He has a castle to repair, and selling his farm is the only viable means of financing that undertaking. THEN he meets his Damson Valley neighbor, and she’s a fanatic about keeping arable land in cultivation, while Elias’s best bet is to sell his farm to a developer. Wheee!

  9. Big time congratulations. I will very much look forward to reading your new story. Re: modes of celebration, I always first give myself a little time to rest and recover if it was a big exhausting project, if needed, then do something that will be personally fun for me and help me recharge my juices and enjoy some pure pleasure. Usually it is often different depending on the nature of what was just accomplished. For example, if it involved a lot of people then I want some fun creative personal downtime whether it is dinner and a book or movie, a Jammie’s day, a day’s drive in the country exploring something new,
    going to hear live folk singing, a call to a loved one, or if I was doing something where I was more isolated, I’ll get together with a friend for a nice evening out, go visit family, throw an impromptu get together gathering of friends, take a trip, get out of the house, hire someone to do that house cleaning for me to give myself a break, or have fun creating something new to do celebrate and recharge the creative juices, shift my perspective on the world, play what if and imagine the world and all my experiences from a new angle such as being the size of an ant while the world always remained the same size, meet new people, dabble and try new experiences, etc. Some aspect of playing that will light up my soul, make me happy and laugh, and recapture looking at the world for a moment with a child’s wonder again. By the way, your ideas are never tapped out – you just need recharging, shifting perspective and creating new experiences, etc. Sharing and celebrating life are important and can almost become a creative game in itself. You can even plan ahead. That is my take anyway. Congrats and do something fun for you.

    • Thanks! Clearly you have given some thought to this re-charging and rejuvenating biz. I agree about the ideas, and would go so far as to say, the more ideas you develop, the more ideas come to you… but you have to believe that process will work. Don’t look down, in other words.

  10. Last time I celebrated, well… I bought a book. Our budget is recovering from 5 years of significant income loss and I read a LOT of free ebooks, used books, and perusing our local library and the books we own from when we had good income and access to excellent bookstores. I have a wishlist just for books that someone wants to be paid for (imagine that!) and celebrated by buying one of those books. Until 18 months ago, that was a rare occurrence… Now it’s happening more often… so I can reward myself for scrubbing the toilets or filing the tax return or even for completing a big project by PURCHASING a book. (I already have Lady Maggie, so don’t enter me in the drawing, thanks)

    • Mary, that was me in 2009 and 2010. MIGHTY broke. My business had fallen off by two-thirds, darling child needed some help, I owed my soul to the vet…

      Like you, I stopped buying new books. I turned instead to my keepers, and treated myself to the whole Bedwyn series, the Bridgertons, the Carsingtons… I had an orgy of keeper reading, and I ended up having a surprisingly happy time, despite my relative penury.

      That said, I don’t like being broke. Makes me fret awfully, and I hope your positive trend continues. Little by little, the sun came out for me. Hope it does for you too!