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Hi. Long time no see. What have I been doing lately?

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That’s the basic structure for a “screamer” I’m entering in a paper mache challenge this Halloween. That’s all I can share because challenge. My daughter and I are also working on a super secret dollhouse project that I’m not at all allowed to share. You’ll just have to wait on that one. My Painted Lady is at a standstill because I’ve reached the point where money is the issue. I tell you, I have the wrong day job. I should be selling dollhouse miniatures because O M G they cost a fortune. It’s raining like crazy right now, and the roof in my sunroom is made of metal. Can you say loud? My nerves can’t take it. I’ll pass on working in there today until it stops.

So, here’s the deal, and why I decided to finally get back to the blog: Delilah Dawson wrote this blog post the other day and it gave me that nudge, and the itch started; niggling in the back of my brain until I read my query and sort of blinked. It’s been forever since I read it, and the damned thing ain’t bad. Open the MS file, and yanno? It doesn’t suck. It really doesn’t. When did that happen, me not sucking? Because I was convinced that no matter how many people tell me otherwise, that book sucks because nobody wanted it, or me, back when I was sending agent queries. So, I stopped.

I took a year-plus off writing, as if you couldn’t tell by the growing list of hobbies. The thing was, my own health issues aside, I was disheartened. The small breather I intended to take got bigger and bigger, and longer and longer, because WOW. Publishing was tough twenty years ago, and it’s even tougher now. If you’re at all keeping up with the chatter, you know how crazy insane it is lately. Between Amazon’s .983495394583094583 cents a page in the KU program, Sad Puppies, and #AskELJames… good lord.

I wonder sometimes if the Internet hasn’t done quite a bit of damage to publishing, and I don’t mean the advent of self-publishing. I mean to authors directly. So much dirty laundry gets aired that should be hidden in the bowels of Mordor forever, villagers and pitch forks chase down well meaning authors for no good reason, and down right mean ass people hide behind the anonymity of the Web and fling arrows for their own amusement. We creatives are sensitive by nature, no matter how thick a skin we’ve grown, and those damned arrows suck. There is so much good we can do with the platforms we have, and yet when we do try to signal boost something worthy, it gets twisted and misconstrued, and here come the pitch forks again. And, sometimes, it’s friendly fire. Christ on a bicycle, rock and a hard place doesn’t even begin to cover it. Writers are a tribe, and we should defend our own when they deserve it, but when the tribe is attacked from inside AND outside? That’s just unbelievable.

You know who is on the outside, too? I mean the people standing back behind the people with arrows and pitch forks, looking over their shoulders and wondering what the actual fuck is going on. Readers. The ones we want to read the blood and sweat of our labors, and readers are seeing a cluster fuck right now. Writers are expected to have a Web presence these days, and sometimes it goes sideways, bigger than shit. The arrows fly and readers’ bubbles are in danger of bursting like firecrackers.

Well, we only have ourselves–publishing as a whole, I will clarify–to blame because we’re putting it out there in the first place. And I say we because, even though I haven’t said jack shit on writing in months, I’m still one of the tribe. Maybe not one of the cool kids, but still a member of the tribe. And I’m not exempt from arrow-ducking, so I guess I’ll buy some kevlar and hope for the best.

I remember Stephen King doing an American Express commercial back in the day and thinking, “Oh, that’s what he looks like.” I think he even commented in an interview something along the lines of if he’d never done that commercial, no one would have recognized him for years. Now, authors are front and center, and I could pick any dozen out of a con crowd without even blinking because I ‘see’ them online so much. So, what do we do? Keep our mouths shut, post pictures of puppies and kittens, dollhouses and paper mache, and walk a fine line? If so, where is that line? How many steps until we get there? Will it crumble under our feet, or be sturdy enough to stand on?

Walk softly, my friends. Maybe make that line a salt circle.

OW–An Ordinary World–is about to come back to life and get flung out into the publishing world like spaghetti tossed at a wall to see if it sticks. WB–The World Below–will be a first draft in less time than it took to write OW because I stepped back, and lived, and learned.

And it’s scary. It’s scary as fuck.

Why would anyone want to jump back into this?

Because writers are nuts by nature. Obviously.

Got him at a thrift store. He always ends up with his legs crossed.

Got him at a thrift store. He always ends up with his legs crossed. Guess he needs a name.

You would think these kits are easy. Nope. Total pain in the ass.

You would think these kits are easy. Nope. Total pain in the ass.

All those little bitty pieces.

All those little bitty pieces.

And a great big instruction sheet.

And a great big instruction sheet.

Ended up having to make a gluing jig.

Ended up having to make a gluing jig.

Stained it and, of course, broke one of the spindles. Ya do what ya gotta.

Stained it and, of course, broke one of the spindles. Ya do what ya gotta.

I mentioned needing a gauzy fabric to the hubs. He says,

I mentioned needing a gauzy fabric to the hubs. He says, “What about that gauzy stuff at the mill?” This is part one of a second project, and the curtains for the bed.

There's wood under that tape. Boiled and shaped while hot. Been there for a week or more.

There’s wood under that tape. Boiled and shaped while hot. Been there for a week or more.

There's roll after roll of it at the mill. We think they used it for their filter system. I'll give it a shot.

There’s roll after roll of it at the mill. We think they used it for their filter system. I’ll give it a shot.

Pieces for the corona that will hang over the bathtub.

Pieces for the corona that will hang over the bathtub. That gauzy stuff will also hang from this corona.

Yes, that is an empty masking tape roll, some bent coffee sticks, and a laser cut wood disc. All stained. The hole is for the light fixture that will drop down inside it.

Yes, that is an empty masking tape roll, some bent coffee sticks, and a laser cut wood disc. All stained. The hole is for the dimmed light fixture that will drop down inside it.

That took hours and hours and HOURS.

That took hours and hours and HOURS.

I can’t even fairly count making that stuff as dollhouse time. I never made it to the gauze part because I refuse to turn the heater on to dry the stain when it’s almost eighty outside. I’ll get there next time.

Finished tape wire.

Finished tape wire.

While I DID finish the wiring on the top floor, that was all the dollhouse work I did this weekend. I just wasn’t feeling it, for one. For two, I’m at the stage where I need lights, and most of my lights are on back order or got sold out from under me on eBay. So. We wait.

In the meantime….

Ignore all the crap hanging off the edges. I'm drying fake herbs.

Ignore all the crap hanging off the edges. I’m drying fake herbs.

Once upon a time, someone loved this house.

It's a mess. Missing so much.

It’s a mess. Missing so much.

But someone loved it. Loved it enough to hand paint the floors and walls, and make curtains, and hang wallpaper.

Well, I tore all that out today.

Well, I tore all that out today. As much as I could without diving in all hard core.

But here’s a promise to the person who once loved this house. I saved some of the bits and pieces of what I could save. Some things you took the time to put in the house.

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I don’t know what and I don’t know how, but in some way some part of what you did will stay with the house when I make it beautiful again.

Promise.

~

DOLLHOUSE TOTAL WORK HOURS: 204

I forgot… *hem*

Um. This happened.

This is dollhouse #2, which I've mentioned before. I think. Greenleaf "The Orchid."

This is dollhouse #2, which I’ve mentioned before. I think. Greenleaf Orchid.

SO! I mention to my mother that I’m building a dollhouse.

“I have two. You can have them.”

My daughter built this with her grandmother many, many years ago.

My daughter built this with her grandmother many, many years ago. 

It’s in horrible, shape. Just BAD.

It's in horrible, shape. Just BAD.

It’s a Dura-Craft Lafayette.

This is not AS bad, but it's still bad.

This is not AS bad, but it’s still bad.

It's an older version of the Vermont Farmhouse Jr. by Real Good Toys.

It’s an older version of the Vermont Farmhouse Jr. by Real Good Toys.

They were both covered in so much dust and flat dirt that I had to take them to my husband’s shop and blow them off with the air compressor before I could bring them in the house, and then hope to gods nothing flew off.

So.

When I say making floors is relaxing and I can’t wait to do it again, I guess I better mean it.

#projectrehab

Tape wiring is some scary shit. Not because it’s difficult, but because once you commit, you commit.  You only have so many slots allotted to your power supply, so you gotta figure that out. And you plot, and you plan, and you waste foot after foot of painter’s tape laying out your path in the smartest, most economical way.

That took four hours. Seriously.

That took four hours. Seriously.

It has to be one long continuous run, so I'd pull off a run of tape and replace it with tape wire.

It has to be one long continuous run, so I’d pull off a run of tape and replace it with tape wire as I went.

Like so.

Like so.

Power supply all hooked up, I give the first run a test.

Power supply all hooked up, I give the first run a test. I think this is where I stopped for a Valium.

And the Dollhouse Gods said,

And the Dollhouse Gods said, “Let there be power.” And it was good.

Tiny little things called eyelets.

Tiny little things called eyelets.

You use them when you have to splice the tape run.

You use them when you have to splice the tape run–purple to purple, pink to pink–like up a wall for sconces.

And this is where I stopped because fifteen feet of tape wire might sound like a lot, but it is SO NOT.

And this is where I stopped because fifteen feet of tape wire might sound like a lot, but it is SO NOT. There’s still painter’s tape in the attic to mark what needs to be finished.

The only store in town that carries tape wire is closed on Sunday, so there we are. Laying out where I wanted the lights was the hardest thing of all, which is hilarious since I was terrified to start wiring.

So, I found this online while I was doing anything and everything to avoid starting to wire.

I totally put sticky notes on my computer screen and then moved them, one by one, to the house as I marked their path with painter's tape.

I totally put sticky notes on my computer screen and then moved them, one by one, to the house as I marked their path with painter’s tape.

Don’t judge.

It works.

It’s just not finished.

Blame Hobby Lobby.

DOLLHOUSE TOTAL WORK HOURS: 203

Since it’s been a month-plus, obviously a lot.

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More dollhouse pictures here. I added another 67 hours.

Then I tore all that out because I have to tape wire electricity now that I know where the majority of things will go.

And I took a sanity break because things got a little crazy. Then these showed up on the porch.

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damn-damn-damn

Things are still crazy. Not in a terrible way, but in that I don’t have time to blog. Forty-five hours a week at a day job, four dogs, seven cats, and a family of humans, is plenty to keep one occupied. The dollhouse? I’ve said before, it doesn’t require a query letter or anyone’s approval. There is no market saturation with a dollhouse.

There’s lots of things I would like to be doing lately, but as my friend Lily said, I’m not going to kill myself to do them.

I am, however, going to update my Pinterest board and go see about the coffee sticks boiling on the stove because I have a three day weekend of my own making and I’m going to damned well enjoy it.

DOLLHOUSE TOTAL WORK HOURS: 192

As of right this second, anyway. There are many hours left before sleep.

a.k.a

I did a whole bunch of crap. Most of it was boring, so I didn’t blog.

The Magic Bus was sold and after a near month long fight to get a title, it was replaced by this:

It doesn't suck.

It doesn’t suck.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this new (to me) vehicle, but I miss The Bus.

I did about thirty-two hours of work on the dollhouse over six different days. I mostly did the floors, but I did stop and refinish some furniture somewhere in the middle of all that before I pulled my hair out over the monotony of gluing down coffee stick after coffee stick. Just go here to see pictures. The end result is all that counts. I will say I am sick and tired of coffee sticks.

Before stain.

Before stain.

After stain.

After stain.

Yes, I legit made these floors.

Yes, I legit made these floors. Just need to decide if I want to poly them or not.

So, yeah. I’m alive, just been tired and busy. A lot of things came in for the dollhouse, so now that the floors are (nearly) done I have to move forward with wallpaper, etc. ACE Hardware is having a .99 paint pint sale, limit four, so I’ve snatched up my four limit. Good thing it runs until the end of the month because my happy ass will go back.

I’m going to mess around with some insane ideas I found on Pinterest before I watch The Walking Dead.

If they kill Daryl, we riot.

(note to self: eBay for 1:12 scale crossbow)

DOLLHOUSE TOTAL WORK HOURS: 117

TA-DA! Attic floor!

TA-DA! Attic floor!

And it even FIT!

And it even FIT! I can’t tell you how happy I was.

But now we have to do the walls in popsicle sticks. I cut 200.

But now we have to do the ceiling in popsicle sticks. I cut 200.

When you cut popscicle sticks, the end bits curl up and resemble some freaky wooden toenails.

When you cut popscicle sticks, the end bits curl up and resemble some freaky wooden toenails.

I had a great big pile of toenails. Yes, I kept them. You never know.

I had a great big pile of toenails. Yes, I kept them. You never know.

Wondering how long this one is gonna take?

Wondering how long this one is gonna take?

I think the was about the time I decided I was seeing patterns in the knots.

I think this was about the time I decided I was seeing patterns in the knots.

So, I finished it, but left a couple of blank spots in the corners. We'll get to that later.

So, I finished it, but left a couple of blank spots in the corners. We’ll get to that later.

This day is not going to end, is it?

This day is not going to end, is it? I was almost through….

I used over four hundred matches for the floor and roof sections. I know this because I ran out of matches and had to stop here for the night.

I used over four hundred matches for the floor and roof sections. I know this because I ran out of matches and had to stop here for the night.

Bought more matches. Finished Sunday morning.

Bought more matches. Finished Sunday morning.

TA-DA!

TA-DA! It only took about nine hours to finish both ceilings vs. the eighteen it took to do the floor.

This is where the blank spots came in. I kept thinking the knots looked like stars on the ceiling.

This is where the blank spots came in. I kept thinking the knots looked like stars on the ceiling.

On the left is Pisces, for the hubs, and the right is Libra, for the kiddo.

On the left is Pisces, for the hubs, and the right is Libra, for the kiddo.

There was a huge debate between hubs and I on whether or not to stain the wood. He said no, I said yes. I won.

There was a huge debate between hubs and I on whether or not to stain the wood. He said no, I said yes. I won.

Cut the staircase hole out and decided to use that part to make a trap door. Now to find hinges.

Cut the staircase hole out and decided to use that part to make a trap door. Now to find hinges. Not today, though.

Of course, only AFTER I stained both ceilings did I remember to put my own constellation on the other side. Burning stain really stinks.

Of course, only AFTER I stained both ceilings did I remember to put my own constellation on the other side. Burning stain really stinks.

Final TA-DA! :-)

Final TA-DA! 🙂

You know you're in trouble when you use the box from your next dollhouse to flatten the floors in the one you're working on.

Took them out of the attic again to flatten them. You know you’re in trouble when you use the box from your next dollhouse to flatten the floors in the one you’re working on. I have polyurethane, but decided against it. It’s great like it is.

DOLLHOUSE TOTAL WORK HOURS: 85