Writing My Novel: Hello and goodbye!

How the novel's going, what I've been up to, and where I'm headed.

Hello Book Friends,

It’s always awkward to start a newsletter or blog post after you’ve disappeared for an entire season, isn’t it? I actually had not planned to take time off, and certainly not this much of it. Things just got to a point where I needed all my energy and brain power just to cope with Life in 2020. I also felt like there was too much noise in the world and I didn’t want to add to it unless I had something really constructive or encouraging to say, which, I did not. So I felt it best to withdraw and stay silent for a while, which turned out to be a good long while, to give myself space to process everything that’s happening and the state of everything and sort out what I think and how to live and be in this perpetually abnormal new normal.

I’m not quite there yet. But it’s August now, and I didn’t want to leave y’all hanging any longer. I’m still alive, we haven’t (so far) been hit with the big C, and I’m working on Revolution in fits and starts. So let’s get into it:

How the Novel is Going

This week I passed 60,000 words. Considering how my last update back in… May? was to say I’d hit 50,000, that should give you an idea of how slowly things are going, which is why I pushed back the launch date from this month to next month, and that next month launch date is tentative. If I’m being realistic, we’re probably looking at an October release, unless I do a half-tuckused job on editing, which I won’t do.

Part of why it’s going so slowly is that I’m into the third act and everything is Big Action, which is intimidating and the hardest thing for me to write, especially since I’m feeling pressure to make the action in this book feel particularly epic. My favorite thing is the character moments and the conversations, and I’m still weaving those in where I can. At any rate, it’s coming along. For those of you who pre-ordered and were anticipating getting to read it this month, I’m really sorry for the delay, especially in light of the fact that so many things are getting delayed this year. Thank you for hanging in there with me.

The biggest reason why this novel’s taking so long is that for about six weeks there when everything was on fire I lost all desire to write. Not just that—I actually lost all desire to be a writer. The extremity of the cancel culture we were seeing made me want to quit the author life altogether. The world, and publishing, were both so different when I first dreamed of becoming an author. This—having to spend more time hustling to attract readers and sell books than I do writing them, having to put myself out there all over social media where the slightest hint of “wrongthink” could get me the Internet equivalent of tarred and feathered (and being Christian and conservatarian and patriotic, probably a lot of what I think and believe is wrong according to our current culture)—is not what I signed up for.

I used to get frustrated by the minuscule size of my reader base, but now I see it as a blessing. I really have no desire to have any part of the public spotlight shined on me, and if I’m going to go on being an author, I’m content to toil away in obscurity and have my books be hidden gems waiting to be discovered by the sorts of people who get my particular brand of storytelling. And I am going to continue, because as much as I’m struggling to wrap up this series, I’m still really excited to get going on the next one, to the point that I can’t not write it and put it out there. But even if I wasn’t, I’m determined not to leave this current series unfinished.

How Life is Going

It’s been an interesting summer, to be sure. I’ve been taking an extended break from social media and really limiting my exposure to news headlines, checking in a few times a week just to stay in the loop. Where we live is pretty isolated, and we only go into town about once a month for groceries. We did have some visitors a couple of weeks ago, and I was relieved to discover that our social skills haven’t completely withered away from lack of use.

My husband and I have both been using all our extra time to really delve deep into Bible study, and I have to tell you, intense Bible study every day for weeks on end is truly transformative. I think there’s no way you can do that and not be changed, and I have been. My priorities have shifted big time, and so have my interests, and I’ve gotten a lot of clarity on what my theological and doctrinal stances are, and why. I’ve also changed my mind about some things I used to think were great, which I’ll probably blog about at some point in the future.

The best part is that in spite of everything that’s going on I haven’t had any anxiety. I do feel at times like I’m cycling through the stages of grief, but I haven’t fallen into depression. Instead, I actually have a lot of peace, and hope. It’s nice.

Speaking of grief, though, it’s not just the way the world is headed that’s making me so sad. If you’ve followed me for the last few years, you know that our Chihuahua, Pete, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and pulmonary hypertension in fall of 2017. At that time he was given a prognosis of “weeks to months.” Here we are three years later, and as I type this he’s in my lap, licking my arm like it’s going out of style. But his condition has been growing steadily worse. So far, his good days still outnumber his bad days by a wide margin, but the bad days are getting worse and closing in. We’ve had to put him on Lasix, which is helping to relieve the congestion and make it easier for him to breathe, but it’s also bad for his kidneys. I think we might have reached the tipping point where we need to focus on improving his quality of life over trying to extend his longevity. We’re beginning to fear that that initial prognosis is catching up to him, and our time with him is growing short. Anticipatory grief is real, y’all, and it sucks. We’re not ready to tell our baby puppy man goodbye.

How the Future Looks

I’ve been trying to make myself sit down and write this newsletter for weeks. The main reason I’ve kept putting it off is that I’ve been dithering on whether I want to pick it back up and continue, or officially put it on hiatus. But after a lot of thinking and praying about the shape my author life and platform need to take, I’ve decided to cancel this allegedly weekly newsletter and only send out big news and new release announcements from now on. So this is going to be the last issue of Echoes In the Dark / of Accountability / Writing My Novel or whatever it’s called now.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be paring my author platform down to the bare bones — just my website, and my mailing list, and probably my Facebook page (I just clicked that link to make sure it works. When did Facebook start looking like Twitter?).

Once this novel is off my plate and we no longer have to spend so much of our time mowing our huge yard, I may go back to blogging. I’ve been thinking a lot about starting a blog to talk about the Bible and theology, but I’m still praying about that, and deciding where it needs to go. That feeds into the decision to curtail this newsletter, though. I’ve been writing all these years for a secular audience and I know a lot of y’all don’t want to hear about any Jesus stuff, and I try to respect that. But I’ve come to a place where my faith and spirituality is so integral to who I am and everything about my life, that I can’t keep compartmentalizing it. At least if I’m blogging you can decide whether to come hang out with me, instead of me shoving stuff into your inbox.

I’ve got a couple of other things in the idea pipeline, too, which may or may not include a separate blog about angels and the supernatural to tie into my next series, and maybe finally pursuing my secondary dream of selling vintage and handmade jewelry. If any of those are things you’d like to be kept in the loop on, either reply to this e-mail or drop a comment to let me know, and I’ll be sure to notify you if/when they get off the ground.

I sincerely hope everyone reading this is doing well. The next time you hear from me in this space, I’ll have actual book news for you.

Love and peace,

Jean ♥

Writing My Novel: Finally at 50K!

Hello Book Friends,

First a little maintenance: I’ve picked up a lot of new followers via the My Book Cave giveaway. If you’re one of them, hello! This is my weekly Substack newsletter, in which I update you on the progress of my current WIP and sometimes include a short podcast about my writing life. If you’d rather not receive these updates in your inbox, feel free to unsubscribe. You’ll still stay signed up to my Special Announcements & New Releases list on Mailchimp, unless and until you unsubscribe from that too.

Now, onto the update.

There’s no mini-cast this week, partly because it’s been a busy week, and partly because I just don’t have that much to say. I debated whether to even send out a newsletter this week. It’s been a week full of freelance work and running errands and headaches and other distractions, none of which has been conducive to novel writing.

But then a little while ago I made myself sit down and open my laptop and I hammered out about 900 new words, bringing the total word count on Revolution to just over 50,000, and that seems like a milestone worth celebrating. So here we are.

Other than article writing and running errands and battling headaches, my non-writing time this week has been mostly split between Bible study and reading theology books and falling down conspiracy theory rabbit holes (I actually have a LOT to say on those subjects, but this isn’t really the right venue for any of that). I’ve been strictly limiting my time on social media, so I don’t really have any cool or fun links to share this week. The Brave New Worlds ebook giveaway is still going on at My Book Cave, which includes a drawing for a $20 online bookstore gift card, and all my indie novellas and shorts are still free on Smashwords, but otherwise I don’t really have anything to share with you this week.

And so I present an open thread to share your own weekend distractions. What’s been getting you through the week? Got any entertainment recommendations? Any tweets or Instagram posts that made you laugh or smile? Want to dish about conspiracy theories or theorize about what the heck you think is really going on with the world? Click that Leave a Comment button below and share your stuff. Because if nothing else, we can all use a little more community in our lives right now.

Wishing everyone a chill weekend and a healthy, safe and sane week ahead, and a happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there (and to everyone struggling with loss this Mother’s Day, I see you, and I’m right there with you).

Until next time,
Jean ♥

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Writing My Novel: Writing Momentum and Other Authorly Accomplishments


Hello, Book Friends!

As we lean into the weekend (are we still marking weekends?) I’m celebrating an upswing in writing productivity! This week I managed to show up to my novel four out of five weekdays, and on those four days I got a respectable amount of writing done, including outlining the rest of the book and finishing a chapter I started weeks ago.

For those keeping track and keeping me accountable, that brings the total manuscript word count so far to 49,003. Now here’s hoping I can keep this new momentum going next week.

I hope you enjoy this week’s mini-cast. Here’s a quick peek at what’s covered:

  • Hard is hard. If you’re struggling, don’t compare your hard to other people’s.

  • A more detailed word count update

  • I also redid my author website and revived my Facebook page

  • Why it’s a terrible time to be a traditionally published author, but a good time to be indie

  • My plan to dip my toe into paid advertising

  • Book deals!

And here are links to the deals I mention in the podcast:

My novel-writing goal for next week is to just keep the momentum going. Not setting word count goals or quotas seems to be working for now to keep me showing up, so I’m going to keep running with that.

Do you have any plans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this week? We usually mix a batch of margaritas, make a big plate of nachos and watch Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but we’ll be playing it by ear this week since it’s on a weeknight. But in case you want to celebrate at home, here’s our favorite margarita recipe:

1 half-pint of tequila

1 can of 7-up or Sprite

1 can or bottle of Mexican beer (i.e. Corona or Modelo)

1 can frozen lime juice or lime-aid

Pour everything into a large pitcher and stir. Salt is optional

If you mix up a batch and enjoy it, be sure to let me know!

Until next week,
Jean ♥

Weekend Distractions

This twitter thread about cat breeds is the truest thing ever (click through for the whole thread and responses. Warning: contains language that’s not safe for Jean’s mom). For the record, ours spent a week casing our house before flirting her way inside, and her breed is Sassy Back-talker.

This Natalie Grant cover of Never Enough from Greatest Showman has revealed that I’m still nowhere near being tired of this song.

Writing My Novel: The Life-Changing Habit of Showing Up

...More or less.

Hello, book friends!

This is how we’re all starting e-mails now, isn’t it? But seriously, I hope this issue finds you and your people in a good place.

I’m skipping the podcast this week because we’ve got a storm system moving through and I don’t want to keep my laptop plugged in for as long as it would take to record and edit an episode. But I have a few quick things I wanted to share with you this week.

Remember that I said last week my big writing goal for this week was just to practice showing up to my novel? I’m pleased to report that I managed to do that. Not every day, but still, it’s progress. I even wrote some, though I’m not tracking word counts right now since the goal was just to show up. But the ice is melting and I’m starting to gain some momentum once again.

And in case you missed yesterday’s announcement and cover reveal, I’ve set a launch date for Revolution (aka Dominion Book Three) for August 14th, which officially gives me a set deadline. And few things motivate me like a deadline. (By the way, it’s available for pre-order.)

I’m finally starting to get into some sort of work rhythm, but I’m also starting to really be okay with not having a consistent rhythm in place. Last week I talked about my shrinking capacity during this pandemic. I have good days, where I’m focused and energetic, and bad days, where I’m… not. I’m learning to seize the good days and knock a lot of things off my list, and to not beat myself up about the bad days but use them to recharge and do the things that fill me back up. Every day doesn’t have to be the same, or to achieve the same level of productivity. The important things are still getting done.

One good outcome of this whole mess is that it’s making me a lot better at prioritizing and discerning what’s actually important.

Finally, remember how last week I said I’d changed my mind about doing a free Amazon run of Dominion/Desolation? After announcing the week before that I was going to do one? Well, I’ve changed my mind again. Please bear with me, y’all. I’m just trying to figure out this whole being an indie author in 2020 thing, and this stuff’s not as easy as it was a decade ago when I started.

At any rate, the more I thought about it, the more pulling Desolation from KU and turning it into a free reader magnet for an entire month sounded like a terrible idea, so I’m scrapping that and going back to my original plan to do a free promo on Amazon. That will happen next week, after some changes I made to the other books in the series and their product pages all have time to update in the system. I’ll send out another e-mail to let y’all know when the promo goes live.

And that’s it for this week. All of my freelance work is done for the time being, so (unless more comes in) I’m free next week to focus on my novel. My goal is to just keep showing up and making progress. I’ll let you know next week how I did.

Wishing you health, safety, sanity and far less interesting times,

Jean ♥

Weekly Distractions

The Holcombs are still at it. I absolutely loved this cover of Home by the Magnetic Zeroes:

“Home is wherever I’m with you…” which of course right now is just... Well the house. Love this song. Such a great ear worm and fun absurdist romantic verses. This was a fun one. Whistle along with us. @esmzeros @ellieholcomb
“Kitchen Covers, Volume 1” is coming soon on vinyl! Printed on gorgeous opaque green vinyl, as a limited edition release and one-time-only pressing. They will ONLY be available by pre-order. Pre-order is open NOW through MAY 1st, and that is the only way to get one of these. All orders will be Signed! More info at the link in my bio.
April 23, 2020

This is the most entertaining and enlightening thread about Triscuits you’ll ever see:

More like NOT writing my novel (Writing My Novel with Jean Marie Bauhaus - Episode 2)


Happy weekend, book friends!

I hope it’s a happy one for you, at any rate. I know a lot of people out there aren’t really having a happy time of it right now.

Apologies for not showing up last week. It was my birthday week, things were slow, and I seized the opportunity to take the week off and give myself a real spring break.

This week was supposed to be back to business as usual, but of course it wasn’t because there simply is no such thing as business as usual in this present season we’re all in. I expand more on that in the podcast, in which I also talk about:

  • Mindset in general, how it affects our productivity, and my mindset in particular

  • Conspiracy theory rabbit holes, how it relates to my faith, and how it’s all inspiring my next planned series

  • All the reasons why I HAVEN’T been writing my novel, and what I’m planning to do to get off the struggle bus and back into a daily writing habit

  • How we’re doing generally, what we’ve been up to and how my paying work is going

I also mentioned my goals for next week, which are to show up to my novel for at least 15 minutes a day, and to get pre-orders set up for Dominion of the Damned Book Three: Revolution. Which, if all goes well, means you can watch for an announcement and cover reveal coming very soon.

One thing I failed to mention in the podcast is that I ended up not doing a free run on Desolation (formerly known as Dominion of the Damned) last week like I’d said I was planning to do, and I’m sorry to anyone who had their hopes up about that. I realized I only get one promo per quarter and I wanted to take more time to think about how I want to use it. I’m planning to start experimenting with paid ads soon and I need to come up with a strategy an be smart about coordinating everything. Of course, if you’re enrolled in Kindle Unlimited you can read the series as part of your subscription plan, and if you’re in Prime you can borrow both books via Prime Lending (you can also request them from your local library).

But you should know that I’m going to be temporarily pulling Desolation from KU around mid-May. This is because, for the month of June, I’m going to include it in a month-long free book giveaway that will be held at My Book Cave — so if you’ve got your heart (and book budget) set on getting to read it free, come June you’ll be able to grab it in the e-book format of your choosing. I’ll have more details as we get closer to the giveaway date.

Speaking of free (and cheap) books, the Smashwords Authors Give Back sale has been extended to the end of May, and I’m keeping all of my indie short stories and collections free for the duration of the sale.

That’s all for this week! Here’s hoping for a more productive week ahead for all of us.

Until next time,
Jean ♥

Weekly Distractions

  • The other day I bought two jumbo skeins of this yarn with this poncho pattern in mind. Except now I’m not sure whether I’m in more of a mood to crochet or to knit, so I still haven’t settled on a pattern.

  • Berkely Breathed’s been posting classic Bloom County strips from the very beginning, and I’ve been enjoying the ride on the nostalgia train. Here’s the very first ever appearance of Opus. My how he’s changed.

    June 26, 1981. As many of you have already read… I’m not sure where I got the idea to have a penguin wander into the joke, but it was not drugs. I didn’t even drink beer until my divorce 32 years later.
    April 16, 2020
  • Covidclassics is four roommates who love art and are indefinitely quarantined. This is the most creative use of free time I’ve seen yet.

    1) “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird”; 2) [Frida Kahlo]; 3) #behindthescenes @ransomcenter #covidclassics #arthistory #highbrow
    April 9, 2020
  • We’ve been enjoying The Chosen series on Youtube. We’re watching the replays of the livestream, including all the interviews and extras, so it’s taking us a while to get through each episode. It’s definitely a fresh take on presenting the Gospels. If you can’t handle made-up backstories for each of the disciples, additional scenes being added, or anachronistic speech, then this series probably isn’t for you.

  • Finally, speaking of conspiracy theories, I’ve downloaded a few eps of these podcasts to listen to over the weekend. Note that I have not listened to these podcasts yet so this is not an endorsement. But they look fun, if you’re into that sort of thing:

    Supernatural with Ashley Flowers (Episode: The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund)

    Conspiracy Theories (The episodes on Bohemian Grove and the Phantom Dark Age)

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