Resolved to The Year of the Squirrel


Artwork by Gary Medley (FIL)


It’s that time of year again where I think big thoughts, make new plans and the year ahead is filled with possibilities. I blame the eleven days of Christmas break for all that.  Being off work somehow makes me dream unrealistic dreams and think I can accomplish far more than is actually humanly possible.

I’ll realize that by January 4.

But until then, here’s my plan for 2017: The Year of the Squirrel.

More on that later.

Last year ended on a down note, with my mom passing away Nov. 10, and my book sales are all but nonexistent. Seriously, I’m making around $150 a month on seven books. It all seems like way too much work for very little reward. I made half the total income last year that I did the year before (which was the all-time high at a whopping $7K).

I’ve been trying to psych myself back up and get back into the groove. I ran some ads (spent $100) to try to respark interest and revenue, but all it really accomplished was brief stint at Amazon #1 FREE and then four new reviews. I even wrote a couple thousand words, but it’s just not happening. The motivation is gone.

I’m not saying I’m quitting writing completely. I am saying I’m going to let it slide and pick it up as I feel like it. I’m sure at least a dozen people in the world will be sad about that, but it is what it is. Ultimately, I’m the only one putting pressure on myself to make it happen. I’ve given it a good go. I’ve pushed hard for the past five and a half years but gained very little financial traction. I’ve proven I’m not a one-book-wonder and now…I’m moving on.

The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to do that. A clean break.

It’s harder than you’d think to wind down, however. Trust me. I’ve tried quitting before. Ideas don’t stop coming and characters don’t stop talking. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it won’t be closed again. I’m going to keep collecting those ideas and conversations and one day–in the future–I’ll give them the attention they deserve. I also have a few events to attend. Fun events like VisionCon in February and Ozarks Indie Book Fest next October.

Until then, I’m going to participate in the Year of the Squirrel. No, the Year of the Squirrel is not one of the Chinese Zodiac signs (I checked). Nor is it an actual thing. It’s my thing. The Year of the Squirrel will be my chance to follow all the little interests and passions that speak to me this year along with the things I must/need to do. Believe me, there are plenty of need-to-do things. Cleaning out Mom’s house is one of the biggest ones right now.

The things I’m passionate about at the moment include: crocheting, FitBit walking, reading and watching the Gilmore Girls. I think that’s a pretty good start.

There is however, actually a Squirrel Appreciation Day if you’re so inclined to participate. For real, it’s Saturday, January 21 this year. Plan accordingly.

One big goal this year is to get back into shape. Last November, I was in a good place and ten pounds from my goal weight. Right now I’m two pounds above my highest weight ever. I have some work to do.

The biggest fun thing on the horizon for 2017 as far as personal entertainment that I’m looking forward to is the Supernatural Convention in Chicago in July. Bryon and Grace gave me that AMAZING gift for Christmas. I still can’t believe it! Front row, baby! And I get to ride the Amtrack there. Bryon and Grace are going to meet me there after the con is over, and then we’ll have a family vacation in the Windy City.

It’s going to be a looooong time until July.

The good news is I have plenty of time to catch up on my review of the eleven seasons of Supernatural before I go. I’ll have a Masters in Supernatural by that time.

As is my way, I’ve started my Year of the Squirrel List so I can store a few of theses nuggets away for later. It will definintely be a work in progress this year.

Year of the Squirrel List

  1. Crochet all the things
  2. Read all the books
  3. Walk 10k+ steps every day
  4. Finish all seasons of The Gilmore Girls (I’m on S3)
  5. Rewatch all 11 seasons of Supernatural
  6. Reacquaint myself with our garden, wait…which way is it?
  7. Read my magazines the day they arrive
  8. Reorganize my recipe boxes
  9. Clean out and reorganize the bath/medicine cabinets
  10. Donate more clothes out of my closet
  11. Empty Mom’s house of contents and sell them
  12. Read, file or delete all the SAVED articles on Facebook I’ve collected
  13. Surf way too much Pinerest
  14. Can and preserve the garden bounty
  15. Make good food
  16. Eat good food

That’s a good beginning, I think.

I’m sure there will be much more to add during the year because…SQUIRREL!

What does your 2017 look like from here? Do you make resolutions?





Author’s Blog

Announcing a brand spankin’ new Blog!

I know, I know you are saying, “But you don’t keep the one you HAVE up-to-date enough. Geez, why would you start ANOTHER ONE?”

Well, because I have high hopes and ambitions and dreams and plans to become a ridiculously famous author. Or of, at the least, writing a few more books which my six friends can read and giggle over in depths of their cars and reading hidey-holes.

So with that in mind, I’ve re-posted all of my writing posts of my journey thus far (which have also been on this blog) to my new site at Lisa Medley . The new site will only be about literary pursuits; writing, blogging, reading. This site will remain all inclusive.

Here you’ll get the writing bits but also the cute / demonic pet photos, stupid family tricks, travels, mishaps and everything in between.

Thanks for reading and spread the word!

Reading About Writing

This has been a crazy reading year for me. Mostly because I haven’t read one book so far. I’ve read a lot of stuff: blogs, magazines, pieces and parts of several books. But I haven’t completed one novel. My book shelves are overflowing with books that I am dying to read. Alas, there is just not enough time to do it all.

Bryon used to tease me that I’d never get through all the books I have accumulated. I told him it was okay, it only secured my life expectancy. I have my whole life. I just can’t die until I run out of books. I constantly hedge that plan by adding to the pile.

Not reading has caused me some stress. I not only feel like I want to read, but I need to read. Reading is a stress reliever for me. Since I can only do one thing at a time, like all the rest of you, I am giving myself permission not to read fiction for now.

I have made it less than a third of the way through my edits of Reap ‘Em & Weep, and I want that sucker firmed up and ready to roll before the June 23, 2012 ORA Conference so I can pitch it to the agents who will be there. It’s scary thinking of sending it out into the world. I vacillate between thinking it’s crap and thinking it’s gold. It’s likely somewhere in the middle of that. Besides, it’s not like it’s the last and only thing I can ever write. It’s just that it’s the first thing I’ve ever written.

I can’t tell you how many author bios and blogs I’ve read pointing out that their first published novel was actually their third novel, or fifth or {shudder} more. In my head, I know this to be true. But none of us would ever play the lottery if we really believed there was absolutely no chance of winning right? Writing this novel is much the same I think. Probably about the same odds too.

Just writing this blog every day takes up a lot of the time I could be using to read. I’m not complaining. I think both are equally important. Each post is like a little mini writing exercise for me. This process is making my writing muscles stronger. (I heard that snigger, you just found another typo didn’t you?)

The solution came to me Monday as I got to spend a few stolen hours upstairs in the writing cave. I  decided I’m going to concentrate on reading about writing. I have a lot of books on writing as you can see on my shelf above. I’ve completed a few of them, read little bits and pieces of several more, and barely cracked the spine of most of them. I figure there is enough there for a Niangua style MFA* program. Think the Iowa Writers’ Workshop goes redneck.

Now that I’ve actually completed something, I’m finding these books make a lot more sense to me. They seem more applicable. We can prepare forever for a challenge or a job but getting down and doing the thing is really the education. In my entire college career, the only useful and memorable piece of advice I learned was from my English professor, Carter Cramer. Dr. Cramer told me to “Beg, borrow and steal everything I could” in preparation for teaching.

Boy, oh boy was he right.

But that was an expensive lesson. Let’s hope this one yields more fruit.

*Master of Fine Arts

Library Girl

Grace really likes picking out her own library books. We go to the Webster County Library regularly. I used to pick out her books for her. Now, she has her own opinion on everything, including books.

She’s on a thick book kick. She really wants to read fat books. Chapter books. The fatter the better. I know she can’t read all the words in them but I dig that she wants to try. She likes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and systematically moves her book mark forward in the book marking her page.

I was curious how much she actually could read so I had her try to read a page from one of the fat books she has on her book case at home. She got stumped pretty quickly but she plowed on. She told me she only reads the words she knows.

That seemed like a pretty good plan.

Every time she develops a new interest, she wants a ton of books about it. I’m pretty sure I know where that trait came from (points two thumbs to self). I’m notorious for that. As habits go, it’s a pretty good one I think.

I remember reading books way above my level from my own school library. I wanted something challenging. Once I made my way through all the myths of the world series, I discovered non-fiction. It would be fun to have a reading list from that time, but I’m sure those catalog cards are long destroyed. No you can have your list kept electronically online at most libraries.

It think that’s awesome.

And if Grace only reads the words she knows, she’ll be in good company. Admit it, we had no idea how to pronounce most of the words and/or names in any of the Harry Potter books, and we still got the gist of it.

Read on.


Wow, I thought I had read a lot more books than this during 2011. It SEEMED like I was reading a lot. I guess I spent much more time working on my novel than I thought. I only read 25 books this year. Last year I read 64. Grave Secret is on that list above twice. I only read it once. I’m just too Photoshop impaired to delete it.

I’m pretty sure I read a few more than this but just didn’t remember to put them on Shelfari. No idea what those might have been. If they come to me in an epiphany, I’ll update. I wouldn’t hold your breath if I was you 😉

There were some good reads in that list. The Stand was a great reread as was One for the Money. I don’t usually do that. Reread that is, but I thoroughly enjoyed both … again.

I have The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on my nightstand lined up to be next. Then I’m thinking maybe The Hunger Games. That’s the great thing about loving to read … there’s always more!


This my pile of unread magazines.

It seems that no matter how much stuff actually gets done … there is always more to do. It’s like digging a hole in the sand with a plastic spoon. It just keeps filling back in. Somehow the stuff I really want to do is always last. Bryon has the same problem. I suspect it’s universal.

Bryon and Grace both helped with a much needed house cleaning marathon today. Things look pretty great right now. It won’t take long before it starts to go downhill and needs to be done all over again.

This was my pile of magazines on the end table in the living room. Bryon has a similar pile of unread hunting magazines in the bedroom. He’s been reading lots of novels lately: Harlen Koben, Robin Cook, Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly and Michael Palmer mostly.

The problem of course is time. We have lots of shows we like to watch too. I used to read magazines during the commercials before the days of DVR. Now I don’t even have to watch the commercials thankfully, but the magazines sure do pile up fast.

We haven’t renewed most of our magazine subscriptions but we had a lot more than I realized and we are still receiving issues of most of them. I also love, love, love getting magazines in the mail. Or actually just mail in general. I do, however, think the magazine companies are supremely sneaky the way they constantly send you renewal notices like it’s your last issue. I know I’ve renewed way, way early before because of those notices. Who has the time or inclination to keep a spreadsheet on them all?

I only recently realized you can check out back issues of magazines from the library. That’s brilliant! How have I gone this long not realizing that? Of course they don’t have all of the magazines I like. Honestly, I rarely use much out of any of them. I just like looking at them. And collecting them. And hoarding them.

I’m all for multitasking but your brain can only read one thing at a time no matter how talented you are.

I resisted checking out this website for a long time called Pinterest . It’s sort of like an online magazine without the articles. Just the best stuff you might clip out. It’s chock full of cool ideas in all sorts of categories. Beware though, it’s a huge time suck once you go over to the dark side. They even make you request an “invitation” to join like it’s a big special club or something and you might or might not be accepted.

Of course the last thing I need is something else to fragment my time even further. Most days I feel like Dug, the Talking Dog on Up! dashing off track at the first sign of a squirrel. Watch it here if you haven’t seen it.

I might need an entire “stay home and read magazines” day to catch up.

I suppose there could be much, much worse problems to have, but sometimes all that clutter just adds up and instead of doing something about it, I’d just as soon throw it out and be done with it. There’s definitely something to be said for a clean slate.

Oh look, a squirrel!