Random Stuff

I really stink at blog post titles.

Tempeh for Two has been out for almost two weeks now, and I’m so excited to see people buying not only this book but the previous books in the Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series! Also, Tempeh has gotten a couple of really good reviews, which I need to remember to add to this website.

I’m doing a random stuff post because I’m dealing with some personal life things that are taking my time, focus, and mental bandwidth. Without going into a lot of detail, if you’re someone who does energy, or prayer, or anything along those lines, I’d appreciate some going toward my 77-year-old father, and some going toward me and my kid and son-in-law who are trying to help my father.

Since finishing writing Ebb and Flow (which may turn out to be the first book of a new series, a spin-off from Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat) and releasing Tempeh, I’ve taken a short break from doing Karenna stuff to work on some young adult fiction. From 2010-2017, I had several young adult novels published under the pen name of Jo Ramsey. From 2005-2010, I wrote 40 YA novels, some of which were among those published, and which form one long series broken into three “branches,” and a separate but connected shorter series. I’m currently going through all 40 of those books to see whether I can–and want to–rewrite, update, and edit them to eventually self-publish. It’s work, but it’s been fun work, and it’s helped keep me together through dealing with the aforementioned personal life stuff.

Hopefully next week I’ll have an update about my March release. I’m not entirely sure if the book I was planning to release in March, A Fighting Chance (follow up to Chance Met) will be ready, but I have another book that will definitely be ready for March if A Fighting Chance isn’t. So stay tuned!

Tough Time of Year

At this time of year, a lot of people post about how wonderful the holidays are. They fill Facebook and other social media with pictures of decorations, dinners, family and friends. And for some people, the holidays really are wonderful.

For others, they aren’t. This can be a very difficult time of year for some people, for various reasons. There might be estrangement from family members. Loss of loved ones. Not coping well with the increased amount of darkness for those of us in the northern hemisphere. For all kinds of reasons, this can be a tough time of year.

For me, this year, it’s very tough. I’m not going to go into why, because it isn’t something I want to talk about publicly at this point. I am managing, to some extent. I have some support from people in my life, including my therapist. After the first of the year when things reopen on regular schedules, I’ll be getting additional help to cope with what’s going on. But it’s difficult and painful, and it’s making this season not…something I want to celebrate this year.

I am thankful to my kids and spouse, and to the friends who know the situation who’ve been checking in with me. I am not the person who is most heavily impacted by what’s going on, but I am impacted, and it helps to have that validated.

I’m also thankful to the people who have no idea what’s going on and don’t even know me, who are bringing me bits of joy. Someone bought a copy of one of my nonfiction channeling books (written as River Lightbearer). Someone else bought a copy of one of my children’s fiction books (written as Kim Ramsey-Winkler). Someone emailed me in response to my announcement of the Tempeh for Two release date telling me how much she loves the Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series and that she can’t wait for this next book.

At this time of year, to those of you for whom it truly is a wonderful time of year, I’m sincerely happy for you, and I hope you cherish what you have. For those who are struggling, be kind to yourselves. Don’t force the “holiday cheer” if it isn’t there for you. Honor how you feel and what you need. And for everyone: Remember that you don’t know what someone else is dealing with. Be compassionate, and don’t underestimate the power of what seems like a tiny gesture.

Yule (Winter Solstice) is imminent here in the northern hemisphere. Darkness will begin to ebb; light will become more prevalent. And hopefully things will become easier.

Cat Pic

I haven’t been feeling well this week and was struggling to think of something to post here. So I decided to share a cat picture. I volunteer at a local cat cafe, which was fictionalized in my novel Fill the Empty Spaces. (The humans who work at the cafe in the book bear no resemblance at all to the real-life humans, but the cats in the story are real cats who lived at the cafe at the time I was writing the book. Some of whom are still there.)

This is one of the newer cats at the cafe, and I absolutely love her. Despite her appearance, she is so lovable and cuddly, and she purrs so loudly you can hear her across the cafe!

Her appearance is also how I feel when I’m sick and trying to edit a book (I spent the week doing final edits on Tempeh for Two).

Enjoy Shaylee!

Exhausted

A few weeks ago, I started a new job. Within the first week, I realized it was more than I would be able to handle owing to the amount of physical involvement. I had told the employment agency I was hired through that I can’t do a lot of standing and walking, and yet they put me in a preschool classroom. If you know anything at all about preschool-aged kids, you know that sitting is not a thing adults get to do often when preschoolers are around! So after a week and a half of trying, I gave my notice and said I would stay until they found someone else, but that I wanted to be finished within two weeks.

It’s been a week and a half, and as of yesterday, they haven’t replaced me yet. I’ve been asked to work another full week. I agreed but told them very emphatically (and barely suppressing a couple of swear words) that I will do ONE AND ONLY ONE more week, and after that I don’t care if they’ve replaced me or not, my health is more important.

I love the kids I’m working with, and I get along well with ALL of the adults I’m working with. (Which is VERY rare for me; I struggle with social skills and social cues, and usually when I’ve had jobs in the past, I’ve been the odd one out and people either barely tolerated me or full-on bullied me. Yes, including jobs in public schools.) But I have physical and mental health conditions that mean this job simply isn’t a viable thing for me, and I’ve had to acknowledge that. Meanwhile, over the past week, at least four kids have come down sick, including one who was at school with an active fever. So I’m feeling kind of blah and seriously overtired and not really in the mood for writing the blog post I’d planned.

On Thursday, I’ll be releasing Fill the Empty Spaces! It will be available for Kindle, including Kindle Unlimited, and in paperback. This is one of the books that I’m planning to bring “wide” (in other words, available through a variety of sources) in spring 2024, but for the next six months or so, it will be Amazon exclusive. The Kindle preorder is live now. I’ll share more about the book and the psychopomp involved in it in my next post. Right now, I think I need a nap…

One More Week…

Of not working full-time, that is. On Monday the 18th, I start my new job as a preschool teacher’s aide. To the best of my knowledge, this is a full-time job (I’m still waiting for some final details from the school and staffing agency, and I have to admit I’m a bit irked/anxious about not having gotten all the info yet…), which will mean some experimenting and juggling as I try to form a new routine that includes time for writing and promoting my books, time to run errands and do housework, and, perhaps most importantly, time to relax and sleep. I’ve learned the hard way over the past several years that short-changing myself on time to just exist (and rest, and sleep) leads to health issues that keep me from doing *anything*, so I will be prioritizing myself and my needs over everything else as I adjust to having this job.

So far, that doesn’t look like it will affect my writing or the releases I’ve already planned for the rest of this year and 2024. But, as I wound up having to do this year, I will adjust things if needed to free up the time I need to take care of myself. Fill the Empty Spaces, slated for October 12, is still a definite, and so are the next two Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat books, Tempeh for Two in January 2024 and Take Some Tahini in July 2024, but beyond that, I’m not making any concrete plans until I see how working impacts my health, focus, and time management.

Kitty Cats!

Content notes: Partner loss, animal euthanasia

 

In my novel Fill the Empty Spaces (releasing October 12), the main character, Del Nethercott, starts volunteering at a cat cafe as part of his journey to heal his grief over the loss of his long-term partner. While I’ve heavily fictionalized the setting and humans involved in the story’s cat cafe, the cats are real. Slightly fictionalized, but real.

In my nonwriting life, I volunteer at a cat cafe near me. The real-life cafe is called Kitty Cat Cafe and Adoption Center, and it is a nonprofit organization that provides a home, care, and cuddles for cats who are the wards of two local rescue organizations. Most cats are available for adoption, though some are permanent residents of the cafe due to health concerns. Some of the cats named in the book (Ice, Lord Purrington, Piper, and Choco Chip–who in real life is named Chips Ahoy, but I changed it to avoid trademark infringement) have been adopted since I wrote the book.

One cat, though, tried to take over the entire story. In the fictional version, Del adopts Charlie, who he calls Charlie the Sweater Cat. Charlie is a senior cat with health issues, and in the story, he’s stabilized enough to be adopted. Since Del approves of Charlie’s disgruntled old man demeanor, he chooses to bring Charlie home.

In real life, sadly, Charlie the Sweater Cat was never adopted. Due to multiple health concerns, he remained at Kitty Cat Cafe on hospice care. He received plenty of pets, scritches, and treats while making it known that he was, in fact, the king of the cafe. On July 3, the veterinarian determined that Charlie was in too much pain and his health had deteriorated past the point of being treatable, and Charlie crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

I’ve kept the owner of the cafe informed about Fill the Empty Spaces. I’ll be including an author’s note about the cafe and the cats, and I will be donating a portion of royalties to Kitty Cat Cafe. The owner has given me permission to use one of my photos of Charlie on the book’s cover, and I wanted to share Charlie’s picture here as well. If you want to help support Kitty Cat Cafe and Adoption Center (or visit if you’re in or near northeastern Massachusetts), please visit their website.

And here’s Charlie:

A Lot Going On…

Over the coming weeks, I might be blogging less often. I have a lot of things happening in my personal life that are going to be taking time and attention, and since I have a finite amount of time and attention, I have to pull it from somewhere. Blogging is one of the things that might get less while I put more into the other stuff that’s happening. In related news, because of the other things happening as well as having paid attention to comments and thoughts from readers, I am likely to drop my newsletter back to once a month rather than the current twice-monthly mailing; I will still have two newsletters this month as I’ve agreed to host another author in the second August newsletter, but beginning in September I will probably do one newsletter per month plus a “bonus” issue for preorders.

In the next few months, I have to find a “day job,” which is a process I’ve been in for several months already with no results. All the people who say “No one wants to work anymore!” don’t seem to count those of us who *do* want to work but are physically and/or mentally unable to do certain jobs. (For example, I literally pass out if I’m on my feet for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, and sometimes 30 minutes is more than I can handle, which means any jobs that require me to stand without breaks–i.e. most retail and food service jobs–are out of the question for me.) But I’m continuing to job hunt and narrow things down to the junction of my skills/education and the jobs I’m physically and mentally capable of doing.

I’m also very likely to be moving to a new home within the next few months. There are a few factors behind this that I’d rather not go into right now, but let’s just say that while I do want to move to a quieter location (I live about 15 miles from Boston, Massachusetts, so a very urban area), *needing* to move and the timeline for moving are not entirely my choice or within my control. There are going to be a number of smaller changes involved in this big one, and in addition to the time and attention it will take, it’s going to take a lot of my mental/emotional bandwidth to handle everything. If you’ve ever moved, particularly from one state (U.S.) to another, you know that it isn’t always a simple process.

Through all of this, I am continuing to write and revise/re-edit and plan releases. I’m currently working on a novel with the working title of A Fighting Chance, which is the sequel to Chance Met (released in March of this year), and hope to have the first draft of that finished within the next couple of weeks; the book is tentatively planned for release in March 2024. I’m also at work on another round of edits for Fill the Empty Spaces, my new novel that is planned for release on October 12 of this year. I’m looking ahead to what I’ll be writing (or rewriting, or at least revising and re-editing) going forward into 2024, and I’ll make announcements about upcoming books as I firm up those plans.

I plan to still *try* to blog weekly, but life–and my mental and physical health–are my top priority. So if a week goes by without a blog post, that’s why.

And for something positive to end this post on, here’s a pair of cats.

I’m Traveling…

Last week, I journeyed to Canada to visit my kid, who is in veterinary school up here. Since I’m traveling and spending time with my kid, I’m not doing a long blog post this week. But I did want to share a picture I took on my drive up: The world’s longest covered bridge, which is in Hartland, New Brunswick. The bridge is part of a road, so people actually drive through it; I was able to drive through twice (once on my way to the bridge-side restaurant I’d chosen for lunch, and again on the way back to the highway). This bridge will quite likely show up in a book at some point!

May be an image of covered bridge

Birthday Fundraiser

June is my birthday month, and this year I’m doing something a little different.

One of the things I do when I’m not writing is volunteering at a cat cafe near where I live in Massachusetts. This experience found its way into my novel Fill the Empty Spaces; in fact, in that book, the cats who are mentioned at the cafe where main character Del volunteers are all real-life cats who reside (or at least resided when I wrote the scenes that mention them) at the real-life cat cafe. The humans in Fill the Empty Spaces, however, do not have any real-life equivalents, just to be clear.

Anyway, I’ve been volunteering at that cafe since January. It’s a nonprofit, and most of the cats there are available for adoption, though we have a few who, due to medical concerns, will probably live out the rest of their lives at the cafe, where they can receive constant monitoring and the care they need. We have anywhere from 8-12 cats most of the time; several have been adopted since I’ve been volunteering there, but there are always others to take their place. The cafe partners with two rescue organizations in the area to bring in cats.

For my birthday this year, I’m doing a Facebook fundraiser for the cafe. If you’re inclined to provide help to feed the cats, buy them toys, and contribute to their general care, please make a donation at https://www.facebook.com/donate/654773599828408/. You can find out more about the cafe, schedule a visit, and make a direct donation to them (if you aren’t a Facebooky person) at https://www.kittycatcafema.com/.

And here’s my favorite resident of the cafe, Charlie the Sweater Cat (I am the only one who calls him that, but I’m totally trying to make it a thing), who has become a character in Fill the Empty Spaces: