Category Archives: Books

Excitement in Diane-ville. Book 21 and a SALE!

Illustration by Bec Schreiber

This is about to be a huge week for me, so I’m taking a deep breath and sucking down extra caffeine (coffee, Diet Dew, Dew Kickstart … whatever it takes) and maybe a few extra M&Ms (plain, otherwise, it’s way more than a few).

Book 21. I have two chapters left to write. Polly ended up in a snowbank last night. Well, that’s not true – it was more like a cold, wet, slushy parking lot – you know the kind I mean. While that might not seem like a terrible thing, the person who did it was a very bad person and now she has to … okay, that’s enough information. Trust me, she’s about to kick butt. I’ll write that tonight. The weird thing is that when I write these exciting chapters, I find myself breathing fast as my fingers race across the keys. That probably means I’ll be in bed early.

The book should be finished tomorrow night, but that’s only the beginning. Since this is the first draft, I have a ton of cleanup to do. That will teach me to not pay enough attention to what my characters are telling me in the beginning of a book. By the time I’ve finished writing, they’ve clarified exactly what they meant and are insistent that I make sure it’s fixed. That will happen all day on Tuesday. Tuesday night, I’ll start through the manuscript again, looking for more things that need to change, extraneous words that need to be eliminated, and other issues (what character changed the pronunciation of that word to iss-yous in my head? drives me nuts) that jump out at me.

By Thursday, I will have printed the manuscript so I can read it in a different format. Everything is new again! My red pen is a tyrant. Not a page is exempt. It’s a glorious thing. Friday and Saturday will be cleanup days so I can get this to my amazing crew of editors and readers. (And thank you for offering, but I have all that I can manage right now.)

Now, if that were all that happened this week, it would be no big deal. However, there’s so much more.

Cover / Title. Max’s photography is consistently amazing, so yesterday I found the image that will be used for Book 21’s cover. Between now and next Sunday I need to find the title and build the cover. All quite do-able. It just takes silence and time to process. I have that. Yay.

Newsletter. It takes three or four days to put together a newsletter, so I’ll build the shell on Wednesday and add pieces the rest of the week so that on Sunday morning (the 25th – always the 25th of the month), it will arrive in your email inbox. Oh yeah. I’ll write a vignette for that, too. I’m not sure if I can top the last vignette with Beryl, Lydia, and Andy, but I’ll give it a shot.

Now for the big news. I’ve saved the wildest part of this week for last.

BIG SALE on the first eight Bellingwood books

On Friday, February 23:
The Bellingwood Boxed Set #1 (Books 1-3) will be $1.99 (regular price – $6.99)
The Bellingwood Boxed Set #2 (Books 4-6) will be $3.99 (regular price – $6.99)
Book 7 – Tomorrow’s Promises will be $2.99 (regular price $3.99)
Book 8 – Through the Storm will be FREE! (regular price $3.99)

Illustration by Bec Schreiber

That means that for five days – February 23 – 27 – your friends and family (and you, too) will be able to get the first eight books in the series (Kindle only) for NINE DOLLARS! Quite a savings from the regular price of $22.

These prices begin Friday, Feb. 23 and end Tuesday, Feb. 27.

On Friday morning (the 23rd), I will post a graphic and a link so you can share it – something I appreciate more than I can say.

~~~

A couple of reminders.

The audio book version of All Roads Lead Home is available now (click the title to go to Amazon). More audio books in the series will be coming.

Book List. If you have a question regarding what book comes next or what you might be missing, the only definitive list is to be found on my website – HERE. You can click that word and you can always get there by clicking the “Shop Now” button on the Bellingwood Facebook page.

Newsletter. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter that comes out on the 25th of each month. I promise not to spam you or do anything strange with your email address. Once a month – that’s what you get from me.

Naming Characters, Slow (Limbo?) Paperbacks, Reviews

A midweek blog post wasn’t in the plans, but when something leaps into my head … well, there it is.

One difficult thing when writing is finding character names. Now, sometimes a person’s name is obvious. When I wrote Book 1, Lydia, Beryl, Sylvie, and Andy’s names flowed out of my fingers. That’s who they were. Polly and Henry couldn’t have been anyone else either.

But then more people showed up. It’s Bellingwood, you know. Rather than calling him ‘the guy down the street,’ he needed a real name. And not just a first name, but a last name, too. Sometimes characters are named after people I know and love, but often I stare at the screen trying to come up with something … anything.

Last names are the worst. I might be able to look at a person (in my head) and know what their first name is, but then what?

Would you believe a little phone book is the perfect answer? Errr, what? A collection of last names and I don’t have to work at this? Well, duh.

My sister handed me a fresh list of names (new phone book) at Christmas. I laughed and laughed. It’s becoming dog-eared because of the number of times I’ve thumbed through it while writing Book 21 – and I’m barely at 25% of the manuscript. Yeah, yeah, everybody needs a name. They may never show up again, but they still need a name.

~~~

SIGNED PAPERBACKS IN LIMBO

(Alert: long story ahead.)

For those of you patiently waiting for paperbacks to arrive in your mailbox, well, here’s what it is. I think. Oh, who knows. I despise making excuses for not delivering on time.  I hate this, hate this, hate this.

However, I don’t yet have paperback copies of Book 20 in my house. None. Not a single one. I hoped to get shipping confirmation in the last couple of days, but nope. Not yet.

This has been the craziest publication I’ve experienced to date. Someone told me that after successfully publishing 19 books, it was probably time for the process to spin out of control. Joy.

From the first step of creation, publishing Book 20 to paperback has been a problem. Let me assure you, it’s a fluke. Nineteen+ books have happened with no issue. Maybe they held them all just to frustrate the baloney out of me now. You know, how’s her patience doing?

This company always gives me a date that books will arrive on my doorstep. It’s usually about a month after I place the order. That’s never phased me – they nearly always arrive within a week and a half. Easy. Right? Except that I can’t say much about it until February 1st. If I complain, they’ll tell me their policy and I’ll end up giving them a nod and a smile.

This, of course, followed a crazy-stinking week of even trying to get the book through the process. The company requires a minimum of 24 hours to approve each step. It usually takes 12 hours or less. For this book? Every single thing took the minimum 24 hours AND in the middle, they completely screwed up the process, causing me to lose two days while they looked into it.

My patience was tested. I didn’t scream. I didn’t throw a tantrum. I remained calm. Let me tell you, I treated myself to an adult beverage for good behavior. LOL.

So … as soon as I receive confirmation of shipment, I’ll make announcements, you’ll order books and we’ll get reading material in your hands. If you can’t wait any longer, you can order a paperback directly from Amazon. I’m certain you’ll receive it long before I get mine!

~~~

REVIEWS

Thank you all for writing reviews on Amazon. Each time you write one, another Bellingwood book gets its wings. No, wait. That’s not right. But those positive reviews do help other readers see my books. I do appreciate it.

If you would like to write a review on Amazon, it would be greatly appreciated. And who knows, maybe those books do get wings.

Words … All Messed Up

For as much as I adore the English language, I can butcher it with the best of them. It usually happens that just as I’m in the middle of saying something really dumb, I hear it in my head and at that point, I can no longer back away from it.

I’ve told you before that my mother had a huge vocabulary, but one of her favorite things to do with that vocabulary was splice it up, put it back together, and come up with something new. Now, Shakespeare could get away with that … he was a famous playwright. Mom’s words just got her naive children in trouble.

Like the time I was standing in front of my highly-educated handbell choir, directing a rehearsal. The conversation moved to what authors we were reading (yeah, we took too many breaks, but they were just that good). I announced that I was reading a book by Fletcher Knebel. But I was halfway through his last name when some of the ladies started laughing and it hit me that I’d pronounced it kuh-nee-buhl, instead of using the silent ‘k.’ Because … yes, you guessed it … Mom. She did it as a lark. She also pronounced knife – kuh-nife. At least I could self-correct when it came to asking for the sharp utensil.

Or rhinoceros. If I don’t focus, I’m well into the second syllable before I realize I have to start over or stop right away. Mom pronounced it ri-no-sore’-ass. Pronounce it in your head the correct way … that second syllable is a short ‘o’, not long. If you shorten it to rhino, you use the long ‘o’ sound. Well, mom’s way uses the long ‘o’ sound and from there on out, you’re just in trouble. And let me tell you, if I’m talking about rhinos, most of them have a flaming red hind end.

My sister sees the world differently and this usually comes out in what she says. This is another girl who has a huge vocabulary, but she mixes it up without knowing why. Not her words, but her phrases and sentences. We teased her mercilessly because what she said was just that funny. One day my dad put the snowblower into the van to clear a large space at a local lake (pond) for the youth group to do some ice skating. Carol insisted he was blow-drying the lake. That’s what she saw in her head. Or the time she asked how much a 49 cent coke cost at McDonald’s. It took a few moments to figure out that she was asking which size was being sold for 49 cents (yeah, that was a long time ago – it was a medium coke).

Last night as I was writing, I insisted that a word was correct. However, spell check insisted I was wrong. I love having access to a dictionary online. Oh, was I wrong. No matter what I wanted, indignance is not a word – indignation was just not what I was looking for, but I needed to give it up. I re-wrote the sentence.

We all have our stories about language – from screwing up words because we speak too quickly, to those words we never really learned, to discovering surprising meanings to words we’d always used one way … on and on.

Anyway … do you have a favorite story about your personal language mess-ups?

~~~

Business Stuff

Remember – publication dates for the books are always the 25th of  March, June, September, December. If you’re wondering when the next book is coming out – there ya go.

SHOP NOW button on the Facebook Bellingwood page. That button is a little bit of Diane-magic. It takes you directly to the list of books … in order … on my website. All of the Bellingwood books are listed right there. If you wonder whether you’ve missed out on something, there’s the list. If you’re looking to get the link to Amazon, there’s the list. It’s all right there. If you don’t understand why Amazon is giving you enough information, that’s cool, get it from me on this page.

PAPERBACKS for all the books are available on Amazon. If you can’t get to them through your Kindle … well, that’s because it’s a Kindle, not a computer.

The short stories are published in the paperback they are closest to. For instance, book 16 also contains #16.5 – stuff like that, there. The only thing not available in paperback are the vignettes. I don’t know that they ever will be. They’re awfully short and can be found on the website, in back issues of newsletters, and yes, on Kindle.

BOXED SETS. I’ve had several queries about when I’m going to build a third (fourth, fifth) boxed set for the series. That’s a good question. I know that twenty books is a lot to absorb if you’re just getting started, and yes, I will continue to build out boxed sets, but I don’t really have those set into a schedule. Will the third one hit in 2018? Probably. When? I can’t be sure. I’m sorry that I don’t have more precise information for you right now.

I’ll keep saying it over and over – thank you for being part of this crazy little world I spin. I’m so thankful that I have this chance to get to know you. What an incredible blessing you are to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully express my gratitude for the time and care you give to me.

Today … Tomorrow

This week I’ve spent a great deal of time in my head. It’s not a bad place to be at all, especially when the time spent there is used for dreaming, planning, and setting goals for the next year.

Those things finally made it to paper and then into Evernote, which is when they became more than nebulous ideas and gossamer dreams. As I typed, each goal became a seed that tentatively opened, thrusting out a single, small root. I will return to this list several times a day for the next month or so to add details and structure. Several ideas may be set into a different list – a waiting list. Some will come forward from last year’s list. Now is the time to bring them to life.

Now, the weird-Diane thing that happened is that because I set these goals for 2018, for some reason, I’m holding them until tomorrow. There’s no reason I couldn’t start constructing their framework today, but today is still 2017. Right? Yeah – I never said I wasn’t that much of a nut. Today is a lame-duck day. I’m still stuck in 2017’s grasp, but tomorrow is the beginning of something new for me.

Tomorrow is going to be fun.

~~~

Because I love you, I’ve released Bellingwood 20.5 – The Most Wonderful Time to Amazon early and it is ready for you to read!

This story was so much fun to write. All of the Bellingwood Christmas stories are fun. This is when I get to let all of my feelings for Christmas pour out onto the page. I love the holidays. Even through the stress of planning and traveling, cooking, baking, and hanging with people we spend little time with throughout the year, the realization that our world is a different place because one small baby was born more than two thousand years ago overwhelms my senses. That brings joy – joy that is bigger than any stress I can manufacture.

Some of us will see nothing but negative numbers in the weather forecast for the next couple of days. Stay inside, make something warm to drink, grab an extra blanket, and surround yourself with whatever extra warm bodies you can find. Drink a toast to the new year and read.

Tomorrow is the beginning of something new. I choose to make it a wonderful year, filled with love, joy, grace, and peace. I can hardly wait!

Happy New Year!

Crazy Days

I like to think that Earl loves me best, but the truth is – he’ll do anything for TB’s attention. How cute are they?

I love my life. I love it so much. I’m a lucky girl.

But wow, this crazy schedule that I’ve set for myself wears me completely out a few weeks every quarter. I’m in the middle of a big push to finish Book 18, get the title and cover worked out and the book off to initial proofreaders and editors. All of that, plus a vignette and the newsletter by May 25th. Yep … Hauling some serious tushie around here.

Because there have been several other projects that dropped into the mix since January 1st, the only way for me to achieve all of my goals (and seriously, I keep adding to the list), I’ve really had to step up my word count for each day. Last year, I liked to kick into gear within a week after publishing a book, giving me plenty of leeway for the next book. If I only wrote fifteen hundred to two thousand words in a day, that was still fine, though I usually pushed to about three thousand words at the end of the writing cycle.

Lately I’ve been regularly writing around four thousand words per day to get this book out on time. The Abiding Grace story took time to write and a *secret* project (yeah, I hate that too, but you’ll know within a couple of months, I promise) took up writing time.

Then it hit me. Book 18 needed to move through my fingers right now! This is the best part about Bellingwood. I truly live there in my head. Yeah, yeah, yeah … it’s not that weird.

Okay, maybe it is. All I had to do was tell the characters that we were on location again and they stepped up. Strangers drop in, everyone starts telling me their secrets, their dreams and hopes, children dig out their best behavior. It’s pretty cool.

Tomorrow night (Thursday), I’ll hit the three-quarter mark of my targeted word count goal. The stories are starting to come together and find their end. It’s fun to see things slow down. This is going to be a strange summer in Polly’s life. Lots of changes are ahead for her family. But first we need to get her through some endings. Nothing tragic – it’s all very exciting. But you know how moms can be.

I plan to finish the very rough first draft Sunday night then spend an intense number of hours re-writing, fixing, adjust, destroying, reconstructing and putting the manuscript into good order. When Memorial Day weekend gets here, there might have to be a few glasses of wine that find their way to my lips.

I’m so glad that you are part of this life with me. Thanks for hanging out.

Bellingwood Boxed Set 1 – FREE

April 25 – 29

The Kindle Version of the Boxed set containing the first three books in the Bellingwood series is free right now.

“Delightful … charming … captivating … addictive.”

Meet Polly Giller, a young woman who comes home to Iowa after living in Boston, to renovate and restore an old school building and start a new life.

She meets extraordinary people in Bellingwood. While it seems impossible to many that these wonderful folks actually exist, that’s only because they haven’t spent enough time in small communities found throughout the world, but especially in this author’s favorite state – Iowa.

Iowa-nice is a real thing and it permeates the pages of these stories as Polly discovers mysteries and an exciting life with new friends that soon become family.

“These books are my favorite books this year.”

“Heartwarming and charming.”

“Best series I’ve read in a long time.”

“I feel like I’m one of the family.”

Download the first boxed set today and join thousands of readers who have fallen in love with this small Iowa town and its characters. These heartwarming stories will captivate you, making you wish you could move to Bellingwood and be part of the excitement.

Click on the cover image or HERE to get your Kindle copy today!

The Sound of Silence

Silence.

Wow. No fans blowing, the furnace isn’t running, cats are sleeping, no vehicles moving outside. Pure silence. Well … the clicking of my fingers across the keyboard, but otherwise …

When my life was filled with meetings and customers, busyness and activity, I didn’t think I would ever hear the sound of silence again. (Are you humming the tune?) Now I wonder how I ever lived without it. Silence restores me.

Music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. There is nothing more fun for me that watching a movie or binge-ing on a television series, but when I turn it all off, my blood pressure responds. My shoulders fall, my body relaxes, my mind re-boots.

Silence is no longer a luxury, but a necessity and I will continue to notice and appreciate it for the gift that it is.

~~~

It’s hard to believe that in just a little more than two weeks, Book 17 – Marks in a Lifetime will be in your hands. Sometimes my life is so surreal. I work, work, work, work and then it happens. Another book is published.

Weird.

Even though Book 18’s first chapter hasn’t been written, notes and ideas are filling up pages in my notebook. The story is becoming clearer and pretty soon, the only thing left to do will be to get the words out of my mind. That’s the fun part.

If you don’t know the drill by now, I publish every quarter. March 25, June 25, September 25, and December 25. I can’t write any faster than that … so sorry! LOL. I appreciate your encouragement (that’s what we’ll call it, right?), though.

And for those of you who are new to this, I do not do pre-orders. Amazon’s rules around that make it impossible for me to run such a tight publishing schedule. You won’t find the book on Amazon until it is published.

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For the last couple of weeks, Book 17 has been in the hands of my editors, leaving my brain extra time to process and come up with new ideas and new thoughts. It’s been awesome. But it’s also been overwhelming.

Once I land on a great idea, it isn’t enough to put it on a list and forget about it. I dig right in and find ways to make it real.

My brother (he’s also an author – you should check out his books) and I have been talking about so many different things lately. He’s just freakin’ useless. His standard comment to me is “Go! Do it.”

How can you not love that tummy? My Earl is so adorable.

Then when I get all uppity about there being too much on my plate, he reminds me to take it one step at a time. Smart-Alec. Sigh.

This week, I’ve been breaking things down. Instead of leaping into the deep end, I’m going to start at the four-foot level. Deep enough to satisfy my creativity, but not so much that I’m drowning. (I’m short, six feet of water might kill me.)

You see, I’m highly organized and manage my time really well. I build procrastination into my schedule so that when I can take no more, there is still time to breathe.

What overwhelms me is when my creativity explodes. I discover so many more things that I want to accomplish. Things that would never have occurred to me last year. But even in the midst of that insane pace, I find myself energized and excited. There is nothing better than knowing you can do what you dream about doing.

An evangelist that I knew and loved used to describe imagination as a ‘nation of images.’ The first time I heard him use that phrase, my mind leaped at it. That’s exactly how I feel when this frenzy of creativity, anticipation and expectation take over. There are millions of possibilities and they are all available for the taking.

I used to lament the fact that I wasn’t one of those people who chose one field of study, one talent, one ability, one thing to focus on so as to become an expert. That was never my personality. I wondered if I would ever discover a way to make use of the fact that I was quite good at a lot of things, but not an expert at anything.

My perspective has changed. The fact that I am not an expert at one single thing means that there are no limits to what I can do and explore. This doesn’t mean that I won’t always focus on getting better at the things that mean the most to me, but rather than feel as if I’m not something, now I understand that what I am is absolutely perfect for me.

Ahhh … enough babbling. It’s silent in here again and I think I’ll bask in that for a time.

Brain Dump

When my schedule isn’t on a do-or-die deadline, I actually have extra synapses available to write blog posts. As much as I love that, the last couple of days have been a bit unfocused. Today’s the day to recapture my brain (I had an image of a wrangler with a lasso and a rather naughty bronco racing around the pen, neighing in hysterical laughter – welcome to my brain).

1) You should read through the gratitude comments showing up on the FB Bellingwood page. Oh friends, you are amazing. You’ve made me emotional – I smile and get teary-eyed. We really do have so much to be thankful for, don’t we? I prefer placing my focus on those amazing things that happen in our lives. But you fill my heart. If you want more information on the journals, check them out here.

2) Have you ever said (or heard) “Stop whining”? We are automatically programmed to react to that pitch of the voice … right now. When it is nothing more than just a whine, it’s annoying. My cats all have that pitch down perfectly. That’s how Grey (my sweet little girl) landed in my life. She was quite persistent in her whining and crying that day. I couldn’t ignore her. Now, she uses that whine whenever she wants something.

Last night, she woke up from a nap across the room and started right in. She wanted my attention. Right now! So, I talked to her until she crossed the room. Grey didn’t want to jump up on the desk, so my job was to decide which side of the chair she was approaching and drop my hand until I felt her there and rub her head until she had enough. Earl does the same thing. If I don’t see him, he whines until I drop my hand to give him some love.

It’s all pretty wonderful, but no matter what I’m doing, if one of them whines (meows) at me, I react immediately. No wonder Mom was always telling us to stop whining. She had things to do other than meet our every need.

3) Did you notice the new “Shop Now” button on the FB page? It takes people directly to the book list on this website where people can order from Amazon. Invite your friends to join us and let them know how easy it is to find the books now.

4) While you’re there on the FB Bellingwood page, be sure to check out the Find Our Fans giveaway. It is going on until March 19th. What a fun opportunity. You are exposed to new authors AND get a chance to win things. Score!

5) Mark your calendars for fun in March. Wine & Trivia Night on March 17th – from 6-11 pm Central Time. I’m building up a wonderful stash of giveaways and we always have such fun.

6) The cover and title for Book 17 – Marks in a Lifetime were revealed in last Saturday’s email newsletter. It is incredible to me that I have such a wonderful resource for images from Max. Who gets that lucky? Apparently, I do. The release date is March 25 and we are on target.

That’s enough random information for today. There are so many things around this place that need to be dealt with. Sewing to finish, dishes to wash, rugs to vacuum, stories to write, designs to work on. My To-Do list is ridiculous! No matter how many things I strike off it, the crazy thing fills right back up. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Boredom will never be part of my life.

That was another thing Mom never wanted to hear from us – “I’m bored.” She had lists. It was easier to just find a book and curl up in a chair somewhere. Nobody bothered us if we were reading.

Now I’m babbling. That list? It won’t go away, and chattering at you won’t get things finished.

I love you!

Something Fun – Journals!

Earl is helping me.

In Saturday morning’s email newsletter, I introduced you to a new product I’ve created – Journals. This is one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a long time (outside of writing Polly’s stories).

You see, I absolutely believe in the power of the written word. It anchors moments in time, reveals stories that might go untold, allows exploration of thoughts and ideas. If all we ever do is think or speak – those words are ephemeral. Heh, now sometimes, that’s probably a good idea.

To begin this new venture, I’ve created three different journals. The first is titled Capture Your Memories. Yeah. That’s a bit of a spinoff from Bellingwood Books 15 and 16. I can steal from myself – right? There is plenty of room for you to jot down a few notes each day. My tendency is to do a quick re-cap every evening, just so I don’t lose track of the day’s activities. I’ve also included empty pages for you to write out bigger memories or even scrapbook some of the things you’ve done.

Cat butt! (Still curious Earl)

The second journal – Books are Life – is a new venture for me. Rather than consuming a book and setting it aside, I’m going to actually write down thoughts about what I read. It might not happen for every book I go through, but I intend to fill one journal this year. That’s fifty-five books that I will have read, at the very least. Not only will I have read them, but I will also have a synopsis and more information at hand about them. My impressions, my memories.

The third journal – Find Joy – is probably my favorite. I don’t know if even I have enough words to describe the incredible power of a grateful life. In this journal, you are asked to write out five things each day that you are thankful for. On the facing page, you will find two questions that can be used to trigger memories or bigger thoughts about gratitude.

All of these journals come filled with inspirational quotations and beautiful pictures that Max has shot through the years. If you’re paying attention, you’ll discover that the cover of each journal is made up of photographs that are printed within.

These are the same dimensions as a standard paperback – 6×9 – and about 1/2″ thick with 150 pages of terrific paper for you to fill up with thoughts, doodles, sketches, scraps of life and more words.

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GIVEAWAY!

Now that you’ve read this far, let’s do a giveaway. I’ve brought copies of these journals in and while I look forward to selling them down the road, we can start with a giveaway. The best place to respond to this is in a comment on the FB Bellingwood page post of this blog (not an independent post on the page). If you aren’t on FB, you can leave a comment here.

Tell me in words or a picture what you are thankful for today. You have until Tuesday (2/28) at midnight to do so.

On Wednesday, March 1 (you know me, it will be the afternoon), I will choose five winners to receive their choice of two journals. If you want two of the same so you can give one away, perfect. If you want two separate journals for yourself, that’s awesome.

~~~

These journals are for sale on Amazon – start from this page for links to Amazon. Due to postage costs, I can’t save you much money by sending them out from here, but I will sell signed journals for $9.50 each, including shipping.  If you’d like to order a journal from me, send a message on FB or use the contact form on the website. You can also simply put a check and a note in the mail (as to what you’re ordering) to Diane Muir, PO Box 441, Stratford, IA 50249.

Send lawyers, gu … nah, I’ve got this.

First off … don’t any of you feel sorry for me or try to pat me on the head and tell me how to fix things. I’m fine. Seriously – take this with the grain of salt that I’m typing it. Laugh a little, tell me how bad you’ve got it. All of that is fine, but no advice or sympathy. I’m a big girl.

You know, the truth is – any post that I put out in public is generally for humor’s sake or just general information. If things are falling apart in my life, the only people who will know are my family and closest friends. It’s not really for public consumption. Each of you have your own things to deal with and no matter how much you care for me, the last thing you need is someone else to worry about. So … there’s that.

Wow, already with the ranting, Diane. Get on with it.

So … I just got back from a trip to the bathroom. The bathroom, the shower, and just as I fall asleep. What do they have in common? My best thinking happens then. (TMI? Hah. Sorry ’bout that.)

Anyway, as I walked over there, thinking about my next two weeks, THIS is the song that came into my mind. Why? Oh heck, who knows.

I thought about just posting it on FB with the comment that instead, send M&Ms, food, and coffee. But then I realized that some of you would do just that and it’s not necessary. (Insert riotous laughter here.)

Amazon Subscribe and Save has M&Ms now. Every month, a stash hits my front door. And as for food, I’ve signed up with Home Chef and the best food ever arrives each Wednesday. Max gave me fabulous coffee for Christmas, so I’m set.

You could send cards of encouragement and I wouldn’t hate that, but then there’s the whole getting to the post office. Which means I have to leave the house. My workaholic brain fights me for time. I tell it that I need fresh air and to see people – even if it’s my postmistress and the chickadees at the grocery store. Oh … and all of the farmers who give me the farmer wave on the road between here and town. No matter what I say, my brain reminds me that I need to stay busy, there’s no time and too much to do.

Where did this last month and a half go? There’s a deadline looming.

Believe it or not, I need to have Book 17 written by the end of next weekend – July 18 / 19 (I’m totally leaving this error in here, because it’s hilarious – July? Good heavens, I’m out of control!) It’s totally do-able, I just need to focus. Then I use a week to edit the biggest errors before sending it off to my team of proofreaders and editors (thank you, I have plenty right now). Now, crazy Diane set up her schedule so that I also have a newsletter to produce during the week that I’m editing. And a cover + title to create for the book (for the newsletter), too. And at least one, but maybe two vignettes. All of that has to happen by the 24th of February.

This month, I’ve also got a really fun new product for you. I’m still in the midst of design and creation, but it will be announced in the February 25th newsletter. I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve come up with. You’re going to love it! Stinking love it! Seriously – like love it! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but some of you are going to love it! (Insert more laughter here, please.)

Sound like I’m whining yet? Please know that I’m not. It’s the best life a girl could ask for, but I’m still curious as to how I’ve arrived at February 11th and still feel as if I should be in the middle of January.

TB is usually the one tucked in front of me while I write. He’s so cute when he’s asleep.

The next two weeks are going to be insane in Diane’s world. I’ve pretty much decided, though, that’s par for the course. I must like it that way since it happens so regularly. How can I complain when I get to live my dream and I have such wonderful friends like you in my life … and then these three cats. As I’m typing, TB is sleeping on a blanket on top of the printer/scanner beside me, Grey is sound asleep to the left of me and Earl is curled up in front of me. My arms are wrapped around him as I type on the keyboard. He’s a little ball of warm fluff.

No lawyers, guns or money and no M&Ms, food or coffee. I’ve all I need and so much more.

… unless you can send me back in time about a month. That would be cool. Who wants to work on that for me?