Thursday Thought-Self Help: Deep Work

Deep Work by Cal Newport was recommended in a recent class I took. A bunch of fellow like-minded people started a book club and chose this title as the first to be read.

Okay, maybe I’m not as deep a thinker as the others. Or maybe I’ve read too many “self-help for productivity” books over the course of my life. This book didn’t do anything for me, except annoy me. I liked the first part of the book, and thought perhaps I’d found something useful, but once again, the author is more into delegating crap work so they con focus on the “important” work.

As if the “crap” work isn’t important. What happens when you don’t have staff or a wife? You’d have to order in your own damn sandwich. Oh. I forgot. You’re too important.

The author totally lost me when he complimented himself for doing “deep work” while helping his wife out around the house. After all, he does walk the dog every night.

To be fair, he did have good suggestions. The best was saying, “no.” Some of us do need to be more protective of our valuable time. Example: RWA and how its current issues are impacting my local chapter requires a lot more energy from the local board (although I am far from the person doing 98% of the heavy lifting) than I had anticipated; it is draining my energy. I would hate to be a chapter president right now dealing with that time suck. (Shout out to Kerrie of CNYRW!)

Women, especially, need to practice saying NO more often.

MJ Monday-Meals: Pasta Salad


Pasta has always been my “fallback” ingredient. It’s budget friendly, filling, and shelf-stable. What with COVID-19 reshaping our lives, I’ve been more and more dependent on pasta. Every couple of weeks, I’ve been making a pasta salad. I think I’ve made more so far this year than I have in the previous two years. It’s a good way to get vegetables into the diet, too. It goes well as a side for many things.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 box of rainbow rotini, cooked al dente
  • matchstick carrots
  • a cup or so of green peas (frozen, microwaved for a bit to thaw)
  • roasted red peppers
  • a can of artichoke hearts, cut into eighths
  • a can of sliced black olives
  • a yellow bell pepper, cut into small dice
  • a slice or two of red onion, cut into pea-sized chunks

I throw everything into the bowl while the pasta is cooking.

For dressing I use Good Seasons Garlic & Herb made with canola oil and red wine vinegar. I toss it all together (including the pasta). Then I add dry basil leaves, dry parsley, and garlic powder to taste.



Office Update

I’m making slow but steady progress in my quest to redo my office.  I’m cleaning out stuff that should have been cleaned out ages–even decades–ago.

Example. I had over twenty years worth of old Romance Writers Report magazines that I mean to go through, tear out articles I wanted or wanted to save because I’d finaled in a contest or something. That project was at least four years old with no progress. There were also six years worth of RWA national conference handouts in spiral notebooks. I had these stacked in the hall outside my office.

It took a couple of weeks, but I tossed it all.

I have plans for that space in the hall, so I needed to start clearing.

Step 1: done.



MJ Monday-Manuscript: Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from the very rough draft of BESIEGED BY THE MOON, tentatively scheduled for July 2020 publication:

“So you’re doctor? My mother will be thrilled,” Phoebe lied.

Parker chuckled, the vibrations rumbling against her back. I’m an EMT, working toward being a paramedic. Big difference.”

“They have schools that teach lycan medicine? Doctors and nurses?”

“I’m not a doctor, and no, I’m not aware of schools for werewolf paramedics.” He rubbed his new erection against her bottom. “Homo lupus and homo sapien are close enough in basic physiology that I can adapt my knowledge to help my pack.”

He didn’t ask her a thing about herself. That was okay. The fewer lies between them, the simpler life would be.

“Does that mean you don’t want to play doctor?”

He didn’t react. Maybe he didn’t know the sapien joke. He was male. Males didn’t have to worry about sexual assault in any form, whereas she’d been raised to be always conscious of what males were up to, especially sapien males, no matter that age.

Dustin had taught her that.

“No, I’m an EMT. Long way from being a doctor,” Parker finally said.

She tried again. “You don’t want to examine me? See if I’m hurt?” She tried to sound playful or seductive, but neither role was in her repertoire.

“I hurt you?” He was immediately concerned. “Why didn’t you say something?”

And she was the one who thought she didn’t understand the meaning of fun. What was she thinking, trying to be playful and carefree with the lobo the Creator had chosen for her? One more sign, as if she needed another, that she was meant for other things. Joy and fun were not on her agenda, right along with passion.

“You didn’t hurt me.” She swallowed a sigh. “I was being frivolous.”

Focus. That’s what Corbie would say. Stop being distracted by the unimportant. How silly to have believed mating was important.

“I don’t understand.”

“Unfocused. The important thing is we’re mated. You’ve marked me. We are one in the eyes of the Creator.”

“The Creator?” Suspicion darkened his words. “What’s your pack again?”

Thursday Thoughts: On Being Essential

My day job is working for a beverage distributor. According to the Department of Homeland Security and the governor of my state, I am essential. My employer takes this seriously. Not because they can make money, but because we are a business-to-business industry; we help other business stay in business. (My internal editor is cringing at all the “businesses” in this paragraph!) My company has donated to a bartender relief fund.  When ventilators were donated to my state from another, Jet Blue provided air transportation  and my employer donated the ground transportation.

My employer takes the safety of its employees seriously. We have been given masks. Hand sanitizer–we’ve even made our own. Our temperatures are taken every morning before we enter the building. Social distancing is strictly enforced. People have been hired to do nothing but walk through the office and wipe down the surfaces with sanitizer several times a day.

My particular team has the option of working from home. Several of my co-workers have taken advantage of this.  I have not. Other than my hours being changed, my routine hasn’t been drastically altered. And yeah, I like getting out at 4:30 instead of 5:30. If and when I have to start working from home, I’m afraid I will never want to leave my house again.  It’s the downfall of being an introvert.

I order in food when I can, and am as generous as I can be when tipping delivery people. I want my favorite restaurants to stay in business.

The toughest part of being essential has been talking to restaurant and bar owners who have been forced to “pause”. Some of them will be okay. Others are scared they will lose everything. Some cry. Others curse. All I can do is listen and assure them I will work with them once the state is off pause. We want them to stay in business.

I’m not a health care professional or a first responder. I don’t work directly with the public. But I’m proud of what I do to keep the economy going.