First, the headache, because it was the biggest obstacle I faced this morning.

Over the holidays, we did an intentional, planned drift away from keto so that we could have some fun foods. Pies, you know, and cookies, and stuff like baked potatoes and stuffing. We hadn’t done this before, but we hadn’t dealt with last year, before, either, which sucked… and just for the holidays, we agreed to be a little flexible where food was concerned.

We all three had fun eating. We all three also gained a little weight. Not a lot — we were still doing intermittent fasting — which for us is generally one meal a day, or, if you’re figuring in ratios, 1:23. One hour in which we eat, twenty-three in which we don’t.

We also widened our ratios, to about 6:18, which is still about as wide as we care to go.

Back to the headache. When you return to keto, you get a headache. I’m going to be able to count on this one for a good week before my body readjusts and it goes away.

Was it worth it?

Dunno. Ask me in a week, by which time the headache should wear off.

But throbbing, banging head pain aside, I did get 1278 words today that I really like, while cleaning up and adding to the scene I started last Friday.

I’ve met some new bad guys. My main character finds the smaller one adorable and truly compelling, and is not having the easiest time in the world seeing him as a “not someone I should love”. There are reasons for this beyond the fact that that my delightful villain is someone most human beings would want to take home and be friends with forever.

The bigger bad guy is NOT anything like the little one. But might have some good surprises for me as I keep writing.

Writing the conflict in the scene today, and figuring out what was truly going on as I wrote it, was a blast.

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So… this morning I got my favorite line so far in the Ohio #2 novel.

It’s subject to change during revision, of course, or outright deletion if I come up with something better, but right now it’s this.

If you can catch them, you can eat them.

Can’t throw in the context, except to note that an attempt at nasty negotiations by the bad guys did not work out as well as they’d hoped.

And I got a full start-to-finish scene I love, words I’m very happy with, I went over my stay-on-deadline wordcount of 1191 words by 479 words — and I still have time left over to get the rest of today’s work done.

It has so far been pretty much the perfect Friday.

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I’d written a small chunk of an earlier version of this first draft that mostly didn’t work, so I bailed on it partway though and started again, moving from Apple Pages back to Scrivener at the same time.

Today, I hit the point where I was able to reuse a good piece of what I’d written that first time through — the scene, in fact, that made me realize I’d missed the best conflict in the book in that first start.

So today, with some heavy editing, I managed to save the scene that gave me that “best conflict” realization.

And came out ahead on my words, with 2563 for the day, and a manuscript count of 52,963.

Happy with that, I’m now catching up with other work.

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Was at work by nine (I slept in a little) and just finished my words. Goal is always 1250, and I got 1412 — so I came out a little ahead.

If you look at my screen shot of the word counter, you can see that I could have quit at 1242 and still stayed on deadline today.

I didn’t because today’s words, while the took pretty much the whole three hours allotted, weren’t hard to find.

If I have a number of days like that, my required words to hit my deadline could end up going under a thousand.


I’ll still work to hit 1250 words or better every day because…

You always have THOSE days, where you end up ripping out more than you write, where you can’t think, where you can’t make the story come together.

If I don’t have any days like that, I’ll finish Ohio #2 early (before my scheduled Feb.18), and start outlining the first draft of Ohio #3.

If I do have some of THOSE days, however, I’ll stand a much better chance of not falling behind.

As for what I got today…

This woman I met in the story yesterday who was winding up to be a real “spoke in the wheel, monkey-wrench in the works” about her involvement it my main character’s job in this small town calmed down a tiny bit today. I don’t yet know whether my MC has managed to win her over or not. MRS. X might still walk and take other folks my MC needs with her.

But she isn’t going to succeed in destroying the whole wonderful thing my MC is involved in. So for me, that felt like a pretty big win.

* * *

And today I remembered to reset my Ko-Fi account for January, 2021, and put up my new notice. If you’re interested, you can can see what I’m doing with Ko-Fi… and why… below.

Ko-Fi pays me to write fiction for 3 hours per day, 5 days a week:

Sometimes I work longer than that. But that’s on me.

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I had to redo my schedule. I forgot about holidays, about taking time off — and I also forgot to figure weekends — and the fact that I don’t write on them — into my schedule.

To hit my deadline date, I would have ended up trying to hit 2500 words a day, and I’m not there yet.

The image below, with 2113 words due today, is what I saw when I opened up Scrivener this morning.

This was my start goal this morning

And again, that didn’t figure in taking weekends off, so that I would be working toward an ever-increasing daily wordcount to hit the existing deadline.

So first I looked at the deadline. It was too soon. 

Ohio 2 original deadline 2021 01 04 38 13 AM

I went into Scrivener and changed the software so it no longer figured weekends as writing days. They’re not — they’re regeneration, relaxation, re-filling-the-well days.Ohio2 session settings part1 2021 01 04 AM

Then I set the software to give me as close to 1250 words per day, and discovered that it would require me to reset my deadline to Feb. 18, 2021.

REVISED ohio2 daily wordcount goal 2021 01 04 at 9 40 42 AM

So I did that.

And then I got 1260 words today, in spite of the fact that I’d had a bunch of days of and a hard time getting started.

I’ve discovered that if I can hit my wordcount even when things aren’t going well, the wordcount is pretty close to right.

And I like what I got today. Which also helps.



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The text message at the top of this post (which I sent to Matt at 3:34 AM on 12/6/20) includes the date and time because my half-sister, Julie, died in 2016, before her birthday, which was December 3rd.

I got the news of her death from my older son, Mark, who called Matt while we were sitting in a Pancake House in South Florida.

Mark had received the news from his grandmother, my first ex-mother-in-law, who’d been told by my mother, who was the bitch who didn’t even let me know my sister was sick. “Mom” (said with the sort of sneer that inserts your favorite epithet in its place) just waited for Julie to die before passing on the news, and in her spectacularly cowardly fashion, sending it by third-hand sources.

That’s “Mom’s” style — waiting for folks to die, so that she can gloat over the knowledge, punishing me because after my son came to me to tell me about being molested by his father, Mom called him a liar — and me too. And I told her I that she and I were done.

My ex was found guilty, and convicted, and sentenced, by the way.

So both my sister’s and my father’s deaths have been third-hand news and both discovered way after the fact…

But you’re never as done with the trash in your life as you might hope.

The funny thing is, when the Bitch Queen croaks, I’ll never know. I’m remarkably okay with that.

But in any case, my sister’s birthday was December 3rd. She would have been fifty-six this year, and I’d celebrated her birthday privately. And I’d been thinking about her.

And in one of those weird, disorienting dreams, on December 6th, I dreamed that I was fifteen again, that she and I were in the horrible torture-device fold-out couch in the sunroom of our single-wide trailer, which, in the manner of most sunrooms, didn’t have any walls between it and the room next to it. In that trailer, the kitchen/dining room was there.

In my dream, Julie was on the right side of the fold-out bed (her spot) and sound asleep, while I was awake on the left. I’d dreamed that she stole the covers and kicked me — she was a magnificent blanket-stealer and kicked like a mule, and it was her kick that woke me up.

And I reached over to grab the covers, and she wasn’t there.

So I grabbed my phone and texted Matt (who was awake and downstairs): “What happened to Julie? She was here…

And he didn’t text me back. He just came upstairs, looked in at me, and said, “Are you okay?”

And first I remembered that I wasn’t fifteen. Not asleep in a single-wide trailer in the trailer park above Beaver Creek State Park. Married, with kids. With a husband who at that moment was looking in on me with slightly unsettled bemusement.

I said, “Oh.”

But following right on that first realization, I remembered that Julie was dead. It came as a hard, mean shock, because just a second before, I’d been fifteen and she’d been right there with me and had kicked me awake while stealing the covers yet again.

And I said, “OH!” And my throat tightened up and for a couple minutes it got hard to breathe.

And that would have been it — weird dream, disturbing and disorienting but totally explicable — except for this morning.

When I woke up realizing that my main character in the Ohio Novels also has a half-sister. It was just a line in passing in the revision of Book 1, and I’d never planned to use the sister character.

This morning however, I realized that while my bitch of a mother made sure I never got to say goodbye to Julie, I don’t have to. Not entirely. A part of my memory of her can live on in fiction. 

My main character’s sister is going to become part of the Ohio series. I probably won’t name her Julie. But she’ll be dark-haired, blue-eyed, and not look even remotely like her half-sister. Or her mother.

Just like Julie and me. Unlike Julie, the fictional sister won’t have been born with cerebral palsy or mental retardation, so she’ll get to do all the cool shit Julie never got to do in real life.

And in my own way, I’ll get to say goodbye.

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    I’ve done basic tasks today — email, forums, and the help desk.

    I think I’m not alone in considering 2020 an awful year… though I’ve had quite a few that were worse personally. But they were worse privately, without the disasters spreading much past me and mine.

    I got dragged to some of the more dangerous places in the world by one parent attempting to expiate the results of sin and the punishment of God by doing missionary work, while the other one went along with this because he saw some awesome opportunities to get paid for multi-year hunting and fishing trips in exotic locations…

    So because of those two idiots, I’ve lived on the tundra and seen deadly wildlife up close, lived in countries in Central America during an anti-American communist incursion, and then in a civil war zone where I saw bloody bullet holes in the stone walls of a ruined Catholic church, lived through an earthquake when I was fifteen and suffered at least a year of undiagnosed PTSD afterwards (the moment when I was asleep on the couch back home in Ohio and dynamite from a nearby strip-mine went off and the house shook and I found myself in bare feet out in the snow before I was even fully awake was the FUNNY part of PTSD).

    I’ve had one godawful divorce with the &#$%!@*! who turned into the child molester who abused OUR kids, and my POS parents decided to support the child molester and his parents and abandon us, even when he confessed…

    Like I said, I’ve had worse years personally.

    But this year has been pure shit from top to bottom for everyone who works for a living.

    I’ve discovered that platitudes aside, we’re NOT all is this together.

    There’s a set of rules for those in charge, and a second set for those of us who don’t eat if we don’t work.

    I work. Hard.

    But this week, while I focus on help desk, emails, and the forums, I’m taking a breather from fiction. I’m in a crappy mood, and crappy moods tend to result in the sort of fiction you have to toss and rewrite when the mood passes. I’m going to skip the flailing around and tossing crummy, angry words, and I’m just going to embrace the silly idea that January 1st actually is a new year, instead of an arbitrary marking of the passage of fluid time.

    The cat (Sheldon, pictured above) and I are going to hang out on the couch during writing hours until 2021.  I haven’t had a vacation in more than twenty-five years. I’m going to pretend this is one.

    One of us is going to play video games, and the one with no thumbs is going curl up beside me and alternate sleeping with giving me wistful gazes and staring pointedly at the Cat Snacks container on the end table until I cave.

    He’s good. He’s very, very good. There will be snackage.

    When I have successfully kicked the dust of 2020 off my feet, I’m going to leap into 2021 fiction, and I’m going to finish Ohio #2, then get as much done on Ohio #3, Ohio #4, and Ohio #5 as possible. I’ll  work. I’ll post my progress.

    But I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions.

    Because… how did the resolutions you made last year work out? How many of them even could?

    So, strictly on a day-to-day basis, I’m just going to get up and go to work on weekday mornings, do as much as I can, love my family, and let you guys know on those weekdays when I make it in here and do this… how that went.

    And I will hope along with all the rest of us who actually ARE in this (instead of above it), that next year might be better than this year.

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    Things are getting dangerous in my little fictional town — and the neighbors who have been supportive until now are having big, anxious second thoughts.

    The scene didn’t go quite the way I expected… and I had a moment in the middle where I didn’t know how it was going to work out.

    And then it did… and now I get to bring back an incident that happened in the first book.

    Very, very happy with today’s writing.

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    Today’s words started out being pretty difficult to get, but at the point where I got to bring in some experiences I had as a kid a long way away from Ohio, it turned fun. And from fun, it got strange, and from strange it moved to one of those little lightbulb moments where you ask yourself “what would you do in this situation, and how is that different from what someone who isn’t like you would do?”

    And that led to my MC having a pretty difficult day dealing with folks who are really nice people, but justifiably scared.

    Good writing — and I dropped my daily wordcount minimus back to 1250/day because I need to be able to hit it even on rough days. And while 1000/day is too low, it’s turned out that 1500/day is currently too high.

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