Getting Back into the Groove

The Muse has returned! Now that things are settling on the home front, I am back to writing. I’ve hit page 50 in my WIP that is tentatively titled Styled for Murder. It’s book #17 in the Bad Hair Day mystery series.


What helped was taking my notes and writing a synopsis to put the story into a cohesive whole. Also I wrote out my Cast of Characters, assigning names and finding photos on a royalty-free site to represent my suspects. This was a fun exercise and helped to gel the story in my mind. Here’s one of the suspects. The other shows Marla’s mother Anita and her stepfather Reed.

Construction Worker


Anita Reed
Anita and Reed

Now I go to the computer first thing in the morning. Instead of wrestling with decisions involving the house, I can focus on writing. I get up very early to do this before dawn because once I am distracted, it’s over. If I can get a few pages done, that’s enough to satisfy me. Marketing might not be my priority right now but I need to write the next book.

Then for the rest of the day, I can tackle the other chores on my to-do list, such as dealing with the propane gas company, the gutter people and the tree trimmers. We’re still finding doctors to replace the ones we left behind and that takes time-consuming research. It means tempering our annoyance when the PA shows up for our appointment and says the specialist isn’t there. But the list is getting shorter. Then maybe we can branch out and enjoy our surroundings like described in our farm trip below.

It’s a good feeling to be writing again. Marla is back in my head and the setting is familiar. Now I only have to channel the story and see where it takes me. I’d much rather be visualizing Marla’s antics than making decisions on which vendor to hire.


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The Muse is on Vacation

After any life change, you have to access your situation and adjust to the new reality. My writing muse is taking time off. I was afraid that in moving, I’d lose my identity as a writer. Indeed, I’ve had a hard time mustering enthusiasm for my next book and other related projects on my 2021 goal list. Is it because my research involves hours of online searches for bathroom shelves, bookcases, towel racks, and other household necessities? If not items, I’m looking up reviews on local service people. Or maybe it’s the clutter around the house that keeps diverting my attention.

Is it possible to clear the mental fog to focus on writing? Or is it the book itself that’s holding me back? Could it be I haven’t yet found the “spark” to inspire me for this story? I have done the synopsis, which will act as a story guideline. But maybe I’d rather write a new series centered in this location instead of the one we’ve left. I have already written the first book in that regard. It merely needs revision to get in shape.

But I do feel an obligation to fans of my current series. This, if anything, may give me the kick in the pants I need to start writing again. What advice do you have to offer? I know some of my writer friends have dealt with these issues. How do you revive your interest in writing, especially if you’re indie published, after a drastic life change? How did you get back in the groove?


Settling In

Moving into a new house requires lots of hard work. Our home improvements are slowly raising our comfort level day-by-day. The window treatments, most of which have been installed, greatly help our sense of privacy. My office is shaping up, although I had to order another bookcase to replace the built-in shelving I’d lost from the other house. It’s taking a long time to reorganize my papers but that’s essential to feeling in control.

My husband’s office space is great. He has his own computer desk and has put his music equipment in there. Adjacent to it is a guest bedroom with a Jack and Jill bathroom in between. Upstairs is another guest bedroom that will be a great boy’s room when our grandson stays over. We’re putting all the toys and kid’s books up there and have made the other upstairs bedroom into a media room with our CDs and DVDs. I don’t plan to go upstairs too often, but the kids will like it.

We have a list of projects for the handyman. We’ll need him to hang our mirrors and paintings among many other items. And these are only the inside issues. Outside are three towering trees we want to get removed plus landscaping, gutter cleaning and sprinkler repairs to do. Once we clear the garage of all our packing boxes, that space needs fixing up. So we won’t be done for quite a while.

Our new location is great. We are close to shopping with most of our favorite stores and restaurants nearby. We’ve had our first Covid vaccines and met our friendly neighbors. We even made an excursion one day to a strawberry farm. And of course, the best reason to be here of all is that we’re near our family. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I just wish we could be there sooner rather than later.

Plumbing Problems

We had remodeled our former house to our specifications, including all new comfort-level toilets and bathroom vanities. This current house shows its twenty-year-old age. Two of the toilets needed “rebuilds” as the plumber expressed it. Other plumbing problems included hose-like contraptions in two showers that we had him replace with single-function fixed showerheads. We replaced old-fashioned knob handles with lever handles, redid the tub/shower trim and replaced three sink faucets. It’s amazing how much better this makes things look.

Next the medicine cabinets need replacement. They are missing shelves. I’m waiting for the handyman to tackle that problem. We bought a new mirror at Home Goods for one guest bathroom where we had the old purple one taken down.

The bathrooms have other issues. Our master bathroom faces the front of the house. Its only window has frosted glass and a tree shading it so very little sunlight comes inside. In cold weather, this cavernous space is freezing. The a/c unit is on the other side of the house, and the heat doesn’t reach in here. It’s freezing cold at night. We’ve applied to the HOA for tree removal, but that’s another issue. There’s a lack of shelves to hold room sprays and such, so I’ve ordered a bathroom cabinet. It’s here but has to be assembled and hung. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent searching online for these items.

In addition, the kitchen and bath storage space were poorly designed. We’ve hired a company that can redesign these interior spaces using the same doors and cabinets. For example, they’ll add drawers and pull-outs and other features. Meanwhile, our bathroom items are strewn everywhere as we have no place to put them. It’s one big empty space inside these cabinets.

These are a few of the multitude of things we have to deal with in a new house. It’s also why I can’t concentrate to write. I’m still waiting on a handyman and landscaper. Yesterday we spent getting estimates on new a/c units. And so each day goes, moving us closer to our goal of settling into a routine.

If you read my last post, here are pictures of the creepy attic. Does it stimulate your imagination? More moving adventures next time.


Electrical Issues

The first couple of weeks in our new house brought a parade of workmen through our doors. Most important were the locksmith, electrician and plumber. We had the locksmith change all the locks and add a doorknob on the scary attic door. During our initial house tour, we’d thought this upstairs door to be a closet. Much to our surprise, it wasn’t a closet at all but an opening directly into the attic. You had to turn a key to open this mysterious door as there wasn’t any knob. Subsequently, we had the locksmith add a proper knob. The lock is on the inside so you can’t trap yourself in the attic. This lends itself to one’s imagination, as in The Body in the Attic. Or The Secret in the Attic. I’m sure I’ll use it somewhere in one of my books.

attic door

This door opens from the upstairs loft. Upstairs, you say? What about downsizing at our advanced age? Well, we downsized in terms of price but not in terms of square footage. We didn’t want a pool and this house has a screened patio with no neighbors behind us. But in return, we accepted a house with a second story wing. It was a trade-off. We wanted a one-story ranch house but most of the ones here come with a pool. So we made a choice, plus we liked the layout of this place. On the second level is a loft, two bedrooms, and a full bath. This level will be the grandkids’ play area. The wall in the loft held all kinds of weird outlets with wires sticking out, same as in the family room and master bedroom. We suspected the prior family had elaborate sound systems set up with their media centers.

We tasked the electrician with removing the unsafe wiring in the attic on the other side of the loft wall as well as plating all unneeded outlets in the downstairs rooms. We gave the electrician myriad other tasks, such as separating the ceiling fan light switch from the fan itself, so we could turn on the light without turning on the fans. We had him add new outlets and dimmer switches, and got rid of the florescent lights in the master bedroom closets, putting up our choice of fixtures instead. He was here for two full days, and we still have some more tasks that need to be done. You only find out what makes you comfortable as you live in a house. And this one is still far from finished. More in the next post. I hope I am not boring you with this recital, but it is helpful to me to write about our experiences.

Software Upgrades

It’s really difficult to change to a new software program when you’ve used the same one for years. I knew I would need to get Office 365 when I bought my husband a new computer and I went to use Word to bring up one of my Dropbox files. Oops, no Microsoft Office program came installed on his device. I’d been using Office 2010 on mine for a decade. But now the death knell sounded for this ancient but steadfast program.

I did my initial research to learn 365 Personal would suit my needs. But still I put off the dreaded day of upgrades. Would it mess with my Outlook inbox or my Word files?

And then the unthinkable happened. I got a message from Malwarebytes, one of my security programs, that it had fended off a bit of ransomware. I’d been getting a number of email spams lately too, making me wonder if my computer was compromised. Then all of a sudden, I couldn’t access Word anymore. I got an error message that said, “Your device can no longer support this App.” Huh?

I restarted the computer, scanned the system files with Malwarebytes and Norton, and Word still wouldn’t open. I could always try to reinstall Word 10 with my old disk. But why bother? I had to upgrade anyway, and updated programs are supposed to be more secure. So I took the plunge and subscribed for $69.99 per year.

Installation was easy, and all my prior files seem accessible. The same functionality exists although I may have to hunt for one or two items on the nav bar. Otherwise, the programs look similar to my old ones and yet different.

Outlook automatically signed in to my email server and changed to an IMAP account. My old one is a POP account and it’s still here. So now I have two Outlook accounts, which means duplication of all incoming posts. I’ll have to copy my folders from the POP to the IMAP account and then delete the older version. Let’s hope that goes well.

Upgrading can be difficult, but it’s more often the mindset that is the obstruction rather than the program itself.  I hope this will be the case here. I’m also hoping I don’t have a lingering virus or malware that disrupted things initially. Time will tell. At least this new version of Word is up and running. Whew!

The lesson learned is that if you need to upgrade your software program (or your computer, for that matter), don’t delay. Do it sooner rather than later.


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