Making It All Work…Or…How Time Management Makes Me Nuts!

I like to plan.  I really like it.  I use markers and colored pens.  I allot my time judiciously.  I build in time-buffers to make sure I get my stuff done.

Then, life happens.

It’s been crazy busy around Chez Adams.  We’ve got a high school graduate for the first time.  Eldest Son (pictured on here with his bestie) graduated on June 1.  Before that, it was the baseball championships which they won for the fifth time in a row – WCAC Champs, baby!! – and then there were the after parties, proms, graduation parties, etc. etc. etc.

In the middle of all this, I’m on deadline.

I didn’t plan it this way.  Ohhhhh no.

I planned my spring schedule to the letter.  I took a HUGE trip – England and Scotland!  WOOT!  I planned that around baseball and graduation.  Books to write and get out.  Promotion to do, events to plan around.  Yeah….

With all that, I needed to have the novella that’s due, done by May 1 so I’d be able to relax before graduation – take my time, and have plenty of editing and cogitation time left over before turning it in!

Did that happen?  Of course not.

What the hell was I thinking?  I never have the time I THINK I’m going to have.  While I admit that I occasionally over estimate what I can do in the amount of time I have, it isn’t because I cannot DO the work.

It took me a while to realize why I wasn’t getting stuff done.  I can do what I need to do in the amount of time I allot.

I so totally could….

The problem is that I cannot plan for just MY time.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes kids and dogs and life really muck up a writing schedule!  This spring at my house would have mucked up ANY full time job, much less a creative one.

Somehow, even when I add in time for the unexpected, the unexpected manages to take up way more time than I thought it would!  Ha!

That said, even when I’m behind, and thinking, “where did I screw this up?” I still have to factor in time away from writing to just breathe.

If I try to cut out the important “extras” I put on the schedule, I get in trouble.

I have to read.  I have to walk the dogs – that way I don’t gain ten pounds for every book and novella I write! – and I have to smell the flowers.

Why?  If I don’t put in time for this – actually schedule it in with my colored markers – it doesn’t happen.  Then I stop being as creative as I need to be because I’m not “refilling the well” of my soul.

This spring, another issue came into play.

I didn’t realize that I would have to add in time for what I’ve come to call the “depression factor” of the daily news cycle.  (No political discussions or comments, please!)

However you feel about it, the world’s in flux and it’s challenging to stay creative while you’re living it.  That means I need MORE time refilling the well than usual.  More flowers.  More dog-time. More family time.  More baseball with the boys.

Staying positive is challenging. So I have to find coping mechanisms so I can do the work, and do it well.  Hence, the flowers, dogs, and baseball!

I also read, a LOT!  I read my fellow Pens, Paws and Claws authors.  I read my Romance Bandit pals – Kate Carlisle, Nancy Northcott, Anna Campbell, and others have new releases this spring to my great delight!  I find new authors.  I wait with bated breath for the next Nalini Singh and Ilona Andrews novels.  Grins.  Ellery Adams needs to put a new one out soon, as does Sophie Kelly!  Ha!

I dive into their worlds, escape into the lives of the characters they’ve created and live those lives and feel those feelings as a break from my own world.  It’s what we all love about reading, right?

Then, thankfully refreshed, I can go back to creating my own worlds and people and move their stories forward.

In amongst all that, I have to look forward to what I’m doing, promo wise.  I’m going to be at DragonCon in Atlanta over Labor Day.  Gotta prep for that!  And hey, Coastal Magic in February!  I hope y’all will come visit me there for the booksigning!

How can I be planning for 2019 already?  Yikes!

It’s crazy!  Wow!  Then again, while I want to control my time more, I also know that I won’t have my boys at home for long.  Got one going to college in the fall.  The other will head to high school in another year.

There will be lots of time at some point and I’ll miss them.

Until then, it’s a strategic puzzle as to how to make it all work!  Ha!

Are you crazy busy this year? 

What are your relief valves from all the insanity of jobs, and family, schedules and work, crises and news cycles?

Since you’re following and author blog, I presume you read (yay!), and maybe have a few fur-babies to help cut the stress, does walking the dog, or playing with the cat or horse or snake work for you?

Do you have some authors whose books you’re looking forward to?  Who’s on your auto-buy list?

What else do you do?  Crafts?  Golf?  Sports? Travel?

Give me some pointers, y’all!

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Four is Fun…

You probably all know how hard it is to lose a dog, even if they’ve lived a long and happy life.  It’s wrenching.  Dogs (and cats) are part of the family, they become woven into the fabric of our lives, of our homes, of our hearts.  For five years now, we’ve had either two or three dogs.

Last summer, we lost Blonde Bella.  Bella was half of a bonded pair that we adopted from Lab Rescue of LRCP almost six years ago.  We still have the “other half” of the bonded pair, Midnight Mia.  She’s eleven now, but still going strong.  She doesn’t seem eleven.  She doesn’t have much white on her muzzle, bounces around with the other dogs in typical Lab fashion.  She likes to steal food out of the dog food bins – knocking off the lids, nudging them aside, bumping them till they fall over.  She’s quite a clever girl.

We also have, as many of you know, a two-year-old Irish Water Spaniel, Tucker.  IWS’s (not to be confused with ROUS’s) are rowdy, happy, clowny, non-stop fun.

And yet, the house seemed empty after Bella crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  I was used to walking three dogs in between writing binges.  I’d write a while, walk a dog, write some more, walk a dog, write for another stretch then – you guessed it – walk a dog.  Now, I was in danger of gaining weight because, hey, one less dog to walk!

Writing is solitary and many who do it are introverts.  They don’t mind spending hour upon hour alone.

Me? Not so much.  I’m an off-the-charts extrovert.

I have to go have Starbucks every morning so I can talk to the barristas and any neighbors I happen to run into there.  Walking the dogs lets me run into MORE neighbors (or strangers who like dogs) and have a chat.

That means I get to feed my extrovert side in between writing time where the only people I talk to are those in my head.  Too much solitude and I actually CAN’T write.  I’ve learned that the need for the real humans must be met in order to keep on putting the fictional ones on the page.

Right after the New Year, (which, for us, came in with a few too many nasty surprises, alas!), we decided we needed a Happy 2018 present.  We needed something to keep us positive.

We decided to go back to the fab folks at Lab Rescue and get another dog.  With Mia at 11 and Tucker at 2, we thought it would be great for Tuck to have a slightly younger companion to romp with and that, in turn, would give Mia a break from his insistent, and near-constant demand to PLAY!

We thought we were so smart…we went to an adoption event.  So lovely!  But by the time we got there, 90% of the dogs were adopted.  Yay, Lab Rescue!  But Curses, Foiled Again! for us!  So we went on the Lab Rescue site and started talking to both our initial rescue coordinator from 5 years ago (yep, still coordinating!) and a new coordinator as well because we’d asked – foolish humans! – about a bonded pair that seemed perfect for us.

We hadn’t planned to adopt two more dogs.  Nope.  Just one.  But those two seemed like they’d fit right in.  Too bad they’d been adopted already.  Sigh.

BUT…said the coordinator, there was a new pair coming in.

They’d come from West Virginia.

Their owner had died and they were bereft….

We were totally smitten with those faces, and heartbroken over their story.  On one of the coldest days in January, we loaded our dogs and our boys into two cars and drove nearly 2 hours away to see this pair.  Our dogs played with them, our boys played with them.  We played with them.  Everyone decided it was a good fit, and home everyone came to their forever home with us.

There were a few bumps in the road – chewed boots, disappearing socks

, shredded toys – but a month in, I’ve now got four walkies on my writing days rather than three, and a veritable wolfpack of fun to keep me laughing when I’m here in the writing cave.

So, Mia, Daisy (a 2 y/o blonde darling), Dakota (a 4 y/o, huge, black, gentle giant) and Tucker have forever homes here at Chez Adams, and I may actually meet my New Years Resolution of going down another pant size, thanks to all those walkies!

Have you ever adopted a dog from a rescue group?

What about a shelter?

If you’ve bought from a breeder, what breed did you get?

If you’re thinking about a pet, please, please, please do NOT buy from pet 

stores – a friend just had a heartbreaking, nightmare of a situation, which reinforced the stereotype of puppy-mill-puppies being sickly.  PLEASE!!!  Go through a reputable breeder, or a reputable rescue group like Lab Rescue and you’ll get your Happily-Ever-After Hound!

Oh….and Happy New Year to all the Pens Paws and Claws readers!

(As you can see, Tucker believes ALL the dog beds are his for 2018!)

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Annnnnnticipation…..

First, let me wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Pens, Paws and Claws!

I hope you all had a wonderful turkey day.  Like many of you, I traveled for my feast.  My family gathers at my sister’s house for the big meal and then we watch football and, on Friday, go shopping and then bowling.  I cooked this year, and thankfully it turned out well.  It’s fun, it’s tradition, and we look forward to it every year.  That’s the first of two turkeys I cooked, and the sweet potato casserole waiting to go in!

The only thing we don’t look forward to is leaving our dogs at home.  My sister is allergic, so the dogs stay home with the dog sitter and we have to go four days without our dog fix.  When you live with pets, no matter how many or what kind, when you have to be without them, its just…odd.  No one to bump your elbow and ask for pets, no one to clean the floor if you drop something, no one to warm your lap when you sit down or lie across your computer and interfere with your work.

Seriously, how is even possible to live without pets?

So, as much as I love being with my family, I am looking forward to getting home to my dogs.  We also have another fun thing to anticipate on the way home.  We’re stopping by to see more family on our way home and they have….wait for it….a new puppy!

WOOT!  We’ll get a puppy fix before we get home, then, we’ll get home to slurpy kisses from our own beloved pets.

Ahhhhh.  After nine hours driving it will be: Home, sweet pet-filled home.

The only good news about 9 hours of driving is that I can write for most of that.  I’ve got a holiday novella to finish (another mystery-in-space with my co-conspiriitor, Nancy Northcott.) I’m going to finish and publish another paranormal romantic suspense as well, before the end of December.  That one, A Spirited Life, is in final edits, so I may be doing that during the drive!

So, then we’ll be on to the winter holidays!  Hannukah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Years.  I’ll start decorating the house next week.

What about you?  

Do you take your pets with you for the holidays, or  do you host and let your family bring their pets to your house?

Did you have a great Thanksgiving?  Did you have pumpkin pie or pecan?

What’s your December Holiday?  Are you ready to decorate the day after Thanksgiving, or do you wait till December 1?

What day do you put up your tree?  Is it up? If so, post a picture!

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Show-Dog Love…A Mystery (of sorts)

Welcome, everyone, to Pens, Paws and Claws! I’m so pleased to be a part of this group – Thank you ladies, for inviting me to play!

Among the many things I’ve done for fun in my life, one of the most fun and most enduring was showing my dogs. I’ve raised, trained and shown dogs for a looooong time (not tellin’ how long ’cause it’ll show my age! Ha!) I was privileged to get to show my Dalmatians as well as to take other breeds in the ring for friends.  I think that’s why almost every book I write has a dog in it. Oh, there are cats too, I love cats as well, but dogs hold my heart.

I started out with a Dal who was always the bridesmaid and never the bride – we got so many second place ribbons, and Best of Opposite Sex ribbons, I could have wallpapered a room with them. Her name was Ch. Ivy Lea’s Russet Herald, call name Talia. That’s her going best of breed under a fabulous judge who loved her because she was exactly what he thought we should have in the breed – drive and movement, shoulder, and great temperament. (For those of you who don’t know, Dalmatians went through a period when the movies came out, where they were NOT known for good behavior or temperament! Then they were overbred and got to where they couldn’t do what they were bred for – running!)

Once she “went breed,” as they say, she was set. She then went Best in Show, garnering that ribbon pictured up above. What a night that was! Wow! I’ll never forget it because those were Talia’s very first points toward her championship.

There was, however a lot of controversy about her because she went Best in Show over some very, very highly ranked dogs. People were NOT happy.

There was tension, angst, and oh-so-much-gossip! Was I  sleeping with the judge? (Ugh, no!) Was there a payoff? (Hardly, I was NOT in the money!) What on earth could have made the BIS judge pick THAT dog!?!?!

It makes me laugh now, to think about it, but as with any kind of pageant or beauty contest, there comes drama.  As I writer, I totally appreciate drama…

Now, every breed–and every dog show!– has it’s idiosyncrasies, and that’s part of the fun of raising and showing purebred dogs. Even if you know nothing else, you probably know that Goldens and Labs are popular and easy going, great with kids, and with a  nearly insatiable desire to fetch.  German Shepherds are watch dogs, as are Rottweilers, and an Old English Sheepdog is about as fluffy and furry as a shag rug.

Another part of the fun of dogs, both at home and in the show ring, is the people who own them. Comedian Steven Wright quips, “If people look like their dogs, who changes?” Snork! I love that. I sincerely hope I DON’T look like my dogs since one of them looks like a mop, and the other has a grey muzzle. Ha!

Recently, I began to consider doing a mystery series set around dog shows.  I’m getting back into that world after a considerable hiatus. (Having kids who play sports kinda puts the kibosh on other expensive hobbies!) About ten years ago now, we adopted an Irish Water Spaniel from a rescue. His name was Diver (He’s the brown one in the multi-dog picture up above!) and he was absolutely fabulous.  When we lost him, too young, at 12, we did our grieving and began to discuss that maybe an Irisher puppy would be just the thing.

Last January, in a snowstorm, we welcomed Tucker, O’Morns Trouble on the Line at Ivy Lea. (That’s him with me in the chair) He’s not hit the show ring yet, but he has everything he needs to be a success. I’m excited to jump back into showing, not only to show, but to immerse myself in the show dog world and see if it’s a place I want to set some stories.

What do you think? Would you read mysteries set in the dog show world? 

Do you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show every February?

If so, do you root for your breed, or just enjoy?

That’s Tucker to the right. Our Lab, Mia, is from Lab Rescue here in the DC area, so if you’re missing having a dog, and are in the DC Metro, look into Lab Rescue and find a friend!

https://www.lab-rescue.org/

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