Tag Archives: Uganda

To blog or not to blog…

time

There have been conflicting reports lately (ironically, on blogs) about the benefit of blogging for writers. Jane Friedman had a guest post by LL Barkat, who gave compelling reasons that writers should stop blogging. Then she had a follow up (written by Dan Blank) that gave reasons to keep blogging as well as advice on when to kill a blog. Both actually make good cases, and it’s gotten me thinking about my blogs.

I have three blogs. The first one I ever had is called The View from the Sunroom and is a mix of personal stuff: life over 40, family, recipes and cooking, health. I enjoy it… but I rarely think about writing on it. Because of that, I don’t have many followers and don’t get many hits. On the one hand, I’ve used it when I can’t find some recipe I created. On the other… well, it’s not really a good use of time.

My second blog is for my non-profit, Ten Eighteen Inc. This blog is updated somewhat sporadically, but it’s important to have, because it’s the way I get my trip information, as well as things I want donors to know but don’t need to add to the website, out there. I promote it some, and it links to the website (and vice versa), and it’s the easiest way to disseminate that information, so I will keep it.

This blog is my writing blog, and I enjoy it. When I didn’t write for three weeks, on my last Uganda trip, it definitely lost momentum, which is a lesson learned: write and schedule blog posts ahead!  I don’t have a huge following, but I do have enough to make it worth the time. Plus, the homeschool mom/teacher in me enjoys passing on information in hopes that you will find it useful or thought provoking. It’s a keeper, as long as I’m still enjoying it. If it ever begins to feel like a chore… Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

What about you? A lot of readers of this blog are bloggers themselves. How do you feel about the time and effort you put into your blogs versus the return/reward? If you read the above to posts on Jane Friedman’s site, what are your thoughts? The digital age moves fast. Blogs have been around awhile now. There are certainly ones with big followers and a lot of success, but like other things, it’s not for everybody, and not everybody is going to hit it big, even if their content is great. A lot of things are like that, including books and restaurants… So how about you? Thumbs up or thumbs down on writers and blogs (or other professions and blogs)?

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Trying not to panic…

act hysterical and give up copy

I have a bad habit of overcommitting myself. Not for things outside like I used to do — not committees or fundraisers or things like that. But to my own stuff. I had this brilliant idea (brilliant from a distance, kind of horrifying close up) to do not one but two blog tours in March for my new release IXEOS. That meant that I had about 45 blog posts to write. When I booked these, five or six weeks ahead, that seemed like no problem.

During my 2 1/2 weeks in and traveling to and from Uganda, I figured I’d have a lot of down time. Surely, with two days of travel each way, and several hours each afternoon, I could work through most of the posts, right? Well… No.

Even having done the trip seven times now, I severely overestimated my mental acuity on the flights. This is largely because I don’t sleep on planes, so I look ahead to vast amount of hours of free time, conveniently forgetting that, while my body may stubbornly refuse to sleep and carry on relatively normally, my brain is protesting by going into survival mode. That means not much coherent thought goes on, which means that writing blog posts at that time is not a great idea. So take four days off the list.

The first week of the trip, I actually did get about 25 posts done. I worked in Kampala in the mornings, but was always back at the house by 2:00 or 3:00, and could work until dinner and after, as long as we had power or the inverter had some juice for charging. I also had a couple of down days in Jinja over the weekend. But come that second Monday, I was going wide open from early morning til night, driving lots of hours on awful roads, it was much hotter than normal, and much dustier than normal, and since I was spending the days with hospice or at the babies home, it was emotionally and mentally challenging. Not conducive to writing interesting and perhaps semi-witty blog posts.

I was done working for the trip at 4:00 last Saturday afternoon, and was absolutely exhausted. I slept eleven hours that night! The next day was packing, saying goodbye, having a good lunch in the city and visiting a local artisan, and basically going through the conflicting emotions of leaving my second family. My flight was at 11:30pm. By the time I went to bed Monday night (Tuesday morning Ugandan time), I’d been awake 45 hours. My brain was… Well, it was still in there, but it wasn’t at its peak.

Which brought me to this week, still needing about 20 blog posts, needing to get back to editing IXEOS: Rebellion, and needing to write on my homeschooling book. Oh, and did I mention that, while I was gone, we’d had a lot of work done on the house, including every square inch painted, so it looks like a bomb has gone off in here. Why? Because we’re putting our house on the market next month! OMG.

I haven’t adjusted as quickly as usual to Eastern Standard Time (thank goodness Daylight Savings Time is starting tonight, which gets me somewhat back to normal range), and part of it is just whatever weird things happen to my body clock with an eight hour time difference, and part is looking at my house and realizing that I have to get it ready to sell. Like NOW. We live here, work here, and we homeschool… And I’m not Suzy Homemaker. It’s a big fat mess, to be honest.

I just dropped my daughter at the airport to go visit her great-grandmother and grandmother til Tuesday. My son will be at a basketball tournament in Virginia Tuesday to Friday or Saturday (depending on how they do). My husband will be in DC from Wednesday to Sunday… My plan is to get all the remaining blog posts done this weekend (9 of them), do some editing, hopefully write some on the homeschooling book, and then spend next week doing nothing but working on the house. I won’t have to cook, I won’t have to do much grocery shopping or any of the other mom things, and my daughter has agreed to help when she’s home (around apartment hunting with her fiance and pre-marital counseling and general spring break stuff).

The good news — I shouldn’t have to go to the gym next week. Packing boxes of books and changing rooms around should cover my exercise quotient. The bad news? Well… the rest of it.

So if I’m not posting much next week, you’ll know why. I will post the blog tour stops for the first one, which starts tomorrow, and reblog them when I can. If I’ll goes well, I may be in bad shape chiropractically a week from now, but I will be done with this crazy house!

 

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We’ll be off the air for awhile!

At the Arise Africa babies home, where we are building a primary school

At the Arise Africa babies home, where we are building a primary school

I leave tomorrow for Uganda, and will be gone for 2 1/2 weeks. If I can, I’ll post, but I don’t always (usually) have power or internet. So if you come visiting the blog and see that it’s been awhile since there’s been a new post, never fear! I’ll be back!

If you want to see what I’m doing, try this blog or Facebook page. I try to get information to my daughter to post, even if I don’t have power (texting always works great there).

See you when I get back!

My son and friends. He's not going with me this trip - sad!

My son and friends. He’s not going with me this trip – sad!

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On Getting Things Done Anyway

yes I am

I knew that the first half of this year was going to be crazy. There was no way around it, and that was one reason that I started thinking about my writing as my job, sticking to a schedule, and being chained to my desk. And all that has worked out really well, no complaints.

What all that planning could not foresee was when some sort of super-bug norovirus from hell attacked my family. I did not have that scheduled! The first to go was my husband, then my son, then my future son-in-law who was staying with us, and then my daughter. My daughter got so sick she was in the hospital for 3 days. The evening we got home, I got sick. That was Tuesday, and it was Saturday before I was eating. So. One week gone. I checked my day timer; that really wasn’t in there!

The main reason this was bad, besides the obvious, is that I am leaving on the 15th (yes, a week from tomorrow!) for about three weeks in Uganda. While there, I never count on having power or internet, so while I plan to do some on-paper editing and writing when I do have a charge in my laptop, for the most part those weeks are non-writing weeks. THAT I’ve known about.

But on my calendar for Ross James Publishing, that loss of the last week of January meant that several January items didn’t get done in January. I had lightened the production load for February and March somewhat compared to other months, and certainly realize that I’ll lose a few days here and there for whatever reason, but looking at that calendar and not having things checked off… Stress!

(Additionally, my husband is at the tail end of his editing process, so I’ve done one full beta read of his 105,000 word manuscript and expect the final version for proofreading at any moment…)

But this week, I really pushed through. I got the first draft of IXEOS: Rebellion finished on Tuesday, racing out before writing the final chapter to meet a friend for dinner, then racing back after dinner to write that chapter and those lovely words: THE END.  Yesterday, in some strange burst of editing energy (which needs to come more often), I worked eleven hours in my pajamas, and revised, edited and wrote study questions for my upcoming non-fiction book. I’m not really sure how that happened, but my deadline for that was the end of February, and that was one thing I’d planned to take with me to Uganda, so I’ll take it for the win.

I’ve given myself two months to write a non-fiction book on homeschooling. I think it’ll be about 50,000 words, and I’ve given dozens of seminars on the topic (tentative title is “So You Think You Want to Homeschool?”), so it should be easy to transfer all that seminar information into a book with some study questions after each chapter and references at the end.

That means the only thing unchecked is the publication of IXEOS, which is imminent. I have approved the ebook proof today, with a few minor changes like the font the chapter headings are in, so that will be ready soon, along with the print proof in the next day or so. The print side and back cover are nearly complete, also. I’m hoping that I’ll be spending next Tuesday or Wednesday happily uploading everything to Amazon.

The only other thing on the February production schedule now is the publication of my husband’s book (which we were hoping to get done before I leave, but that’s looking less likely), and starting to edit IXEOS: Rebellion. Meaning that, for whatever reason, my burst of hyper-productivity has bought me a much more relaxed February and March than I’d otherwise planned, and for that I’m grateful.

I’m going to be doing two blog tours in March, one starting the 11th and one the 20th. I’m hoping to get most of the guest blog topics and interviews before I leave so that I can work on those while I’m gone. That’s something I can do when I don’t have internet but do have power. I guess I’m going to have to come up with thirty or so… yikes. Better to look at that one at a time! (I’d like to get a full list of the blog stops from the January Solomon’s Throne posted here for you to see. I reblogged a couple, but there were some pretty good posts out there, in case you missed them.)

I am very grateful for two things. (Well, many things, but in the context of this post, two.) Those are, that I have truly found my passion, and that my family supports my work. I’ve never had such a sustained period of productivity in my life, but I’ve never done something that I loved so much, either. And when I sit in my pajamas all day working, it’s great to know that my family doesn’t think it’s a sign of impending craziness, just mom working.

I’m thankful for all of you, too. I really enjoy writing these blogs and getting your feedback. So since I don’t tell you enough – THANK YOU!!

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