Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Working with Hubby

Image result for teachers holding hands
I work with my spouse. I guess this isn't the strangest thing in the world. Couples who own a business, for example, work together. I have acquaintances who work as a husband/wife team in their real estate business. The winery down the street from my sister's house is owned by a married couple, so those two work together every day.

But there's something different about it when you work at the same workplace as your spouse. Maybe it's because there's a social dynamic with work settings, and now you're mixing your marriage into that. For Clint and I, our jobs are even further enmeshed. Not only do we work at the same school, we both teach 7th grade, we have the same lunchtime, we're both on School Site Council and the Leadership Team, and we're both friends with the same teachers here on campus. Not to mention we commute to work together 45 minutes each way, every day.

So what are the pros and cons of working with your spouse? I don't think I'm even sure about this, so let me write them down and figure it out!

PROS

Shared Interest
Working the same job means Clint and I share a huge part of our lives. Talking about work comes easy when your partner is going through the same experiences as you, and you don't have to pretend to be interested (sorry, that sounds sorta cold).

Carpooling Buddy
Carpooling can get boring after awhile, but working with your spouse means you get to make that daily trip together. I'm especially grateful for this when we have treacherous road conditions due to snowy weather. 

Help on the Job
Technology meltdown? Call hubby. Broken cabinet? Call hubby. Out of glue? Call hubby. Clint has saved my hide in the classroom more times than I can count.


Respect/Admiration
This one can go the other way too--if you work with a spouse who's underperforming, it might embarrass you or make you feel judged by your admin/staff. But in my case, Clint is a creative, tech-savvy teacher and overall fun person who's respected on our campus. It's cool to feel this level of admiration for a colleague, then remind myself "Oh yeah, I'm married to the guy."

Breakfast
When Clint makes his breakfast, he makes mine. I come downstairs every morning to a travel mug of coffee and an egg/avocado/burrito-thing ready to go. (Though honestly, even when we worked separate jobs, he would still make my breakfast, so this is more an 'awesome hubby thing' than a 'working together thing').

Gossip
Clint is exposed to different staff members throughout the day than I am, so by the time we reconvene, we're both loaded with juicy gossip that the other wasn't privy to. And the best part? It doesn't count as gossiping when you share it with your spouse, because married couples are allowed to share everything. ;)

Empathy
Misery loves company. I love my job, but sometimes I'm so tired and drained that the idea of going to work makes me want to curl up in the fetal position. But when Clint and I are both dragging ass at 5:30 a.m--going through the pain together--it makes work an easier pill to swallow.


Friends/Colleagues
Clint's always been a great sport about going to wine nights and other social events with my colleagues. But now that we work together, my friends are legitimately his friends, too. We both love hanging out with people from work, and it feels good that he's no longer tagging along as my 'plus one.'

Flirting
Clint and I have a bit of a "professionalism be damned" attitude at work. We have no problems hugging in front of people, saying "I love you," or even dropping the occasional innuendo. Our colleagues have grown accustomed to our flirtiness and just roll with it (or jump in), and it adds a fun dynamic to what would otherwise be an ordinary day.

Family
Work feels less like work when family is there. I felt this dynamic back when my kids attended my school too. Maybe it's because no matter what curveballs are thrown at you throughout the day, knowing that the people you love the most are nearby, ready to give you a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on...well, it softens the blow.

CONS

Attached at the Hip
There's truth in the expression "absence makes the heart grow fonder." Being together 24/7 means never having time apart to miss each other. Little nuances, habits, etc., can be charming in smaller doses, but can compound to frustrating levels when you never get a chance to hit the reset button.


Toxic Negativity
I'm an upbeat "roll with the punches" person who doesn't like to dwell on negative stuff. My preferred commuting style is to blast my music and ignore any jackholes on the road. So when Clint blows off steam over a bad driver or road construction or whatever, it verbally craps on my entire morning. He also likes to fester in work politics, which I prefer to brush off (why dwell in things you can't change?). If we do get into an argument, there's no way to 'get away' to clear our heads. Honestly, this is the biggest con. I feel like this one should be in bold red.


Leaving Work at Work
In the old days when I came home, Clint and I would spend a few minutes at most talking about our workday before moving on to greener pastures. But now, having our livelihoods in common means work tends to consume all of our conversations. This makes it difficult to "leave work at work." We had to come up with ground rules last year (i.e. No talking about work once we hit the trees, no talking about work in bed, etc.), because living and breathing work from 5:30 a.m until 10:00 p.m is mentally draining. Unfortunately we're still struggling to follow our own rules, so this one's stuck on the list.

No Mystery
Back when Clint worked for the railroad, my job as a teacher held a sort of mystery and prestige (and vice-versa). Things you don't fully understand tend to be an enigma in your mind. I was 'the teacher in the family', he was 'the railroad conductor in the family', and it was cool having our own niche. But now that he's working the same job as me, it's lost its enigma-status. Sometimes that makes me feel less special in our marriage.
See the source image

That's about the most I can brainstorm this round. But that was pretty enlightening! I'm happy to see the pros outweigh the cons.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Future

It's one of those rare moments where no one's home except for me, so of course I'm sitting here lavishing in some gourmet cheese and red wine. I love alone time to a degree that's probably unnatural, though I'm sure I'll feel differently someday when I'm an empty nester and these kinds of moments happen more often.

So I'm sitting here, enjoying my wine, and I decide I want a little music. I tell our Google Assistant thingy "Hey Google, play some music." "Okay, playing music from your Spotify," she responds, and awesome music starts piping from my living room speakers. I say, "lower the volume by twenty percent." "Okay," she says, and lowers the volume. I realize it's a bit too low, so I say "Increase the volume by ten percent." "Okay," she says, and increases the volume. Now it's perfect.

And while all this is accomplished casually without any fanfare, it hits me. I'm living in the future. I can barely comprehend it. The fact that I can turn my music on and adjust the volume without so much as lifting a remote has me feeling awed (isn't this the stuff we used to see on sci-fi shows as kids?), yet simultaneously underwhelmed. It's all happened so fast, yet I feel like the proverbial frog boiling, where technology has crept upon me with such rapid stealth that I've barely noticed. My sister wrote a great post on this concept years ago: The Last Time I Loved Technology.



Not only do I feel a combination of awe and ambivalence, I also feel a mixture of giddiness and trepidation. Giddiness because--how lucky am I to get to live in this amazing century where the world's information is more than doubling every twelve months? Trepidation because (and maybe this is the writer in me)--I see the dystopian nature of it all. Language devolving to the digital version of cavemen drawings, personal connections forsaken in lieu of relationships over screens, and so on. I won't get on that soapbox because it'd take me at least 50K words to step back down, but this oldie from 1969, in all its ridiculous insanity, sums it up nicely: In the Year 2525. Some of these lyrics might take visions of the future to preposterous levels, but you have to admit--this song has some sharp and interesting insights given that it came out well before the internet and cell phones.

So yeah, the curious and inspired human in me feels blessed to live in this era. But sometimes, something else in me waits for the other shoe to drop.


~~~

*Update: Since I drafted this post, Clint and Elijah came home about two hours earlier than I expected, and poor Clint is sicker than a dog and puked down the side of our Pathfinder. See why I bask in Me Time when I have it? :P

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Cringy Character Tropes

Do you have character tropes for heroines that get under your skin? I have a few (especially found within YA novels) that kinda make me want to throw my Kindle at the wall. Nothing I say about these is insightful--if you're an avid reader, you've come across these tropes a few times yourself, and have likewise come across people like me who are also irked by them. But I have to get these out of my system, so here goes.

Trope #1: The Drama Queen
This protagonist is moody and angsty. Other than her one best friend who she confides in, she has a tendency to treat people like crap, especially the boy she has a crush on. She also tends to fall into teenage-cliches, such as perpetually being annoyed at her siblings and despising her parents. That is--if her parents are alive. Often her angst is attributed to the fact that one or both of her parents were killed when she was a kid. Her childhood is often tragic, but (in my humble opinion) no excuse to be a jerk to everyone all the time.

Trope #2: The Wet Blanket
This protagonist has no personality. Generally she has original thoughts and clever ideas, but outwardly she is dull and has nothing interesting to say. Yet, for reasons unknown, men vie for her attention (think Bella from Twilight, here). She may be pretty, or plain in appearance...it doesn't matter. Despite her doldrum demeanor, she exudes some kind of pheromones that make every girl want to be her best friend and every guy want to be her boyfriend. Because of her mysterious desirability (which is in no way backed up by one iota of personality), these heroines are often involved in another annoying trope: love triangles.

Trope #3: The Immune Bad Ass
This protagonist wears leather pants, wields weaponry with the ease of an added appendage, has ninja fighting skills, drinks her coffee black, and would never be caught dead in a dress. Basically she's toxic masculinity with a vagina. She almost never loses a battle and has zero flaws, other than being emotionally unavailable and refusing to let anyone get close to her. Males in her world often serve as sidekicks to her badassery, or comic relief. Some feminist authors fall for this trope believing that giving their heroine any emotions, softness, or traits typically associated with femininity is making her weak. Whereas I'm scratching my head thinking "Um, why can't a female be 'girly' and a badass? (Cue Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Don't get me wrong, I love a strong heroine and can't stand Mary Sues. But there needs to be a balance here, because (other than in comic books) very few readers can connect to heroines that are essentially emotionless fighting machines. Relatability is the key to connection, and this character is totally unrelatable. 

I wonder if these tropes bother others? I am pretty picky. To be fair, none of these are deal-breakers, but they will make me roll my eyes and care less about the MC, which in turn makes me feel less invested in the outcome of the story. On the other end of that, I have awesome character tropes that I simply love, but I'll save that for a future post.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Postpartum Book Blues


Black Lilies has officially been released. I should be ecstatic, but instead I'm feeling kind of blah about it. I'm sure part of the reason is due to some publishing glitches, which puts me in a weird sort of limbo as far as celebrating. But also, it's the fact that while doing the back-and-forth dance with Amazon and waiting for the book to be finalized, I've been stuck between writing projects. I have no multitasking skills and have never been able to move on with a new project when the current one still needs to be squared away. So as a person who loves writing, I should feel antsy that I'm not writing right now, shouldn't I? I should feel agitated and unhappy. But instead, not having a project to work on feels amazing. I love having free time. Work is stressful (there's no getting around that), but my time at home feels so much more relaxed right now without the 'burden' of trying to finish a book. I'm having a blast doing stuff with my family without any of the writer's guilt that usually comes along with it. So ironically, feeling happy has got me feeling...blah. Because why am I not aching to write? Isn't it kind of a big deal that I haven't clacked away at a keyboard for a good two months, yet I don't miss it?

Basically, writing is something I have to do (due to the obsession), but it doesn't always make me happy doing it. Take this summer. I spent most of the season working on Black Lilies, and I'm suffering with a case of missing-out-syndrome. Now I'm back to work, and I'm in a state of shock that summer is already over. My brain is fixated on all the things I could've/should've done over break, like hiking with the kids, riding quads, painting/drawing with Trin, shooting bows, etc. Instead, I worked on a book. I tuned out my family for the better part of most days so I could write, edit, revise, etc. Am I going to regret this someday? I mean, of course I will, because it's not even 'someday' yet and I already regret it. Trin's 19 now, so her days living with us are winding down, and Elijah is 15. I feel like in my quest for publishing a book or two, I'm letting life slip by.

If I wrote standalone books, I could take time off after finishing a novel and focus on my family. Six months, or even a whole year. I could go ice skating with them, and to the movies, and out for smoothies. But I don't write standalone books. Not yet. Chasing Echoes--the first book I ever wrote--is part of a series. I wish I could go back in time and tell past-me not to do a series. The flippin' thing is holding me hostage. As much as I love the Aevos sisters and their incredible world, I just want to be free of it. I want one completed project so I can take a break. I want to work on a brand new novel that I feel no pressure to write, one that finishes and ends in the same cover.

So instead of feeling accomplished right now for finishing book 2 of the Chasing Echoes series, I feel frustrated that I still have one more book to go before I can call this series done.

*Update: All of the above was from awhile ago. I talked to Clint and the kids that night about how I was feeling. I told them I was thinking about not working on the third/final book of Chasing Echoes until Elijah started college, that way I could make sure I don't lose these final precious years with the kids. They were appalled by this and insisted that I need to keep writing, and told me they would help me come up with a schedule next summer that allows me to divide my time between family stuff and writing. They also said that I didn't need to worry about neglecting them, that they were totally fine, and Trin pointed out all the fun things we did as a family this year (which was more than I remembered!). So now I'm feeling better about things, but...I still feel a little 'off'. I think I'll feel better once Spring of Crows is outlined and I have a schedule to ensure that it doesn't take over my life.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Cover Reveal: Black Lilies

Are you ready? Okay, take a deep breath. Or drumroll or...something. (Although I already posted this on Facebook last week. So yeah, it's probably totally anticlimactic. But pretend you haven't seen it yet.) Here it is...the full cover wrap for BLACK LILIES! 



I know, right? RIGHT? It's gorgeous. I'm allowed to brag on it since I didn't create it. Once again, this cover was courtesy of the amazing Naj Qamber.

I'll update all of my social networking once the book is released, but right now we're looking at sometime next week. For reasons unknown to me my proof copy has been delayed until September 5th, so I'm stuck twiddling my thumbs right now. It is really nice being between projects right now though, so can't say I'm hating it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Artisan Street Fair - Book Products!

As promised on my last post, here are some pics of the items we're selling during this year's Jamboree Days. I'm reusing a few old pics for repeat products 'cause I'm lazy efficient.


Sands of Time Necklaces

Always a hit!
Each with attached Legend of the Sands of Time mini-story.
Pictured here without the chains.





Chasing Echoes Soaps & Stationery

These were made by my amazing mother in-law for past events. As much as I love them (especially the soaps--the "Topaz Apple" one smells AMAZING), I won't be resupplying these.
Once out, they're out!

Scents: Topaz Apple, Phoenix Energy, Aviva Gardenia, & Krystal Ice


Jacob Jax and the Watermelon Tree

Pink Peppermint Potion & Grow Your Own Watermelon Tree
Made from Orbeez. The Watermelon Tree bottle includes 
a watermelon seed on the top of the cork. 




Watermelon Fans
Watermelon Beach Balls



Watermelon Lollies

Glow Sticks
(These having nothing to do with the books, but are great for the fireworks later)



Price Sheet for Jacob Jax Merch:


I'm not sure how slime got on here? 

I have some pretty Chasing Echoes bracelets too--different colors and seasons to represent each season--but I forgot to take a pic of them and they're already packed away. I also forgot to take a pic of my price sheet for Chasing Echoes merch. So...that pretty much covers it! Here's the collage I posted on Facebook:


I'll be sure to take pics of our booth this Saturday!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Almost There!


Black Lilies is now in the hands of my editor and beta readers, and I get to relax! I anticipate a few more revisions, but nothing compared to the mass overhaul I've been dealing with this week.

It's such a weird feeling to finish a book. I love this free time looming in front of me. Like, should I launch myself straight into the next book? Or maybe take a few days off and bask in the knowledge that I'm done with a project that took me over four years? Paint something? There's a steampunk cat I've been wanting to draw...maybe I'll work on that. Or just drink a beer and work on nothing.

Next weekend is Jamboree Days, and Teri, Elijah and I have been working hard to make some cute stuff to sell at our booth. I'll try to post pics of all our fun trinkets and book swag in my next post. It's a shame Black Lilies won't be ready in time for the event, but we'll still have Chasing Echoes, Jacob Jax and the Watermelon Tree, and Trin's new comic book: The Branch. We've got some super cute stuff to go with Jacob Jax and the Watermelon Tree. Kids' books are super easy to accessorize. 

That's all I've got for now. I just had to come on here and proclaim how good it feels to have the toughest part of the publication process behind me! *knocks on wood*