This guy right here.

Long story short, Xiao decided he was going to acquire a raging case of Kitty-betes. Our last week has been full of needles and test strips and insulin and cat food stuffed in nooks and crannies so the other cats can’t eat it. We’ve been active.

Once again, this turn of events requires a recalibration on goals. (Spell-Check would have me believe that “recalibration” isn’t a word but I’m here to tell you right now, Merriam AND Webster can both pry my silly made-up words from my cold, dead fingers.) Turns out, insulin is freakin’ expensive. When the Vet keeps advising us to up the dose, I get a little panicked. As it is, we’ve already blown through our entire European Vacation Fund For When Americans Are Allowed to Leave the Country Again, just getting him the care he needs. Sick kittehs are ‘spensive kittehs.

To help ease the financial burden on the family, now that my books are temporarily off the market, I’ve gone back to freelancing.

Ugh, I know, right? I had such an awful time the first go of it, what with the being hired to plagiarize someone else’s book, leading me to hunting down the original author and giving him all of the contact info I had for my client so he could sue the pants off him. I was not a fan.

This time is a bit different, though. Not only do I have my senior editor experience through That One Lit Mag, but now I’ve got ISBNs that belong to me, complete with reviews on Amazon that help back up my abilities. I was more comfortable back then relying on my technical editing skyllz to take on freelancing jobs. This time, I’m branching out.

Ghostwriting! Heck, even the name alone screams “This job is SO Nicole!” I get all the fun of writing stories, but with absolutely none of the responsibility of marketing! What could be better? The money isn’t great, at this stage, but I understand you start at the top and build a(n invisible) name for yourself in the industry. Then the projects start rolling your way.

“But Nicole,” I hear you say, “what about all of your OWN writing projects.”

Yeah, about that. Right now, money is needed to keep a healthy kitty and I need it right ding dang now. The work I would be doing on Spellbound and even Moonlight Market would take a year, at least, to bring in royalties. I don’t have that kind of time, so writing for money is taking the place of writing for creativity’s sake.

Oof. I need to make a Schedule(tm), don’t I? And start doing Adult Stuff(tm) like waking up before noon and eating a Healthy Breakfast(tm). And maybe putting on Pants(tm). Ew. Gah. See the unreasonable lengths I’m willing to go to for a kitty in need?

Adjusting My Trajectory

I promised myself I wouldn’t have every post I make here be some rambling reiteration of “Life is so good, y’all.” But life is so good, y’all. When there are sunsets like this to be seen, who could be miserable?

As mentioned previously, my books have now been removed from Amazon. I needed this change because, to be honest, working through Amazon made me feel squicky. Was it the obvious, easiest choice? Of course. But when the next obvious, easiest choice is selling your soul to a demon at a crossroads, you have to kind of consider your definitions a bit.

Removing my works from the grasp of nearly the entire planet seems like a really terrible business plan, which means I need to do some massive recalibrating on my goals. Previously, my plan was to take the rest of 2021 off from the publishing blitz in favor of a sabbatical, only to return to writing in earnest in 2022. I would write the last two books of my Spellbound series and joyously move on to some new creative endeavor that would surely be fruitful and magnificent.

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.

With half of the series now pulled, I plan to instead write what would have been the last two books, add it to the first two and actually sell them as they were meant to be sold–as one novel. This also gives me the opportunity to tinker a bit with things that bugged me about the first two books. So it’s a win-win!

I feel pretty good about this choice. Without those royalties coming in, I have other plans lined up to use my writing to make some money in the meantime, and I’m sure we’ll cover that later. For now, though, I’m continuing on with deprogramming my brain from the “social media” nonsense and learning to be present in my own life.

On the Run

Welp. This will come as a surprise to absolutely no one who has ever met me, but I’m leaving.

Heh, not here. I pay a lot of money to run this site. Poorly.

But social media. I’m done. Like, done-done. My sabbatical was to see what life was like without the internet’s constant chatter and what I’ve learned is that I’m 100% a better person without the input of strangers. Plus, there’s just too much shady shit going down. I’m not comfortable with my life being for sale to some mysterious corporation behind the curtain.


I’m outta there, boyeeeeees. And by “there” I mean everywhere but here.

Oh, one other thing–

I’m pulling my books off Amazon. WhAAAAT?! Yes. I’d be a hypocrite if I stated my issues with Facebook and/or Instagram if I didn’t also take issue with Amazon’s fuckery. I don’t want my books sold on Amazon anymore. I will find another way.

This is the point where everyone who knows me rolls their eyes because this is SUCH a Nicole move–declaring that I’m running screaming from the internet only to return a few months later declaring that I’ve changed my mind.

And I might change my mind. But I doubt it.

There’s some stuff going down here guys. A disturbing amount of preparing for the death of loved ones. That, coupled with lessons I learned during my sabbatical has me really reconsidering how I spend my time. I have family that loves me, friends that love me, and lots of great animals that love me, too. You know who doesn’t love me?

Mark Zuckerburg.

And that chick I went to third grade with who is trying to get me to buy vitamin patches and essential oils. She does not love me.

Why in the name of all that is good and holy am I wasting time scrolling rather than connecting with these people in a real, deep way?


Buh-bye scrolling.

Remember way back a few paragraphs ago when I said I pay a lot of money to maintain this website? It stays. In fact, I’m going to probably use it more often, which constitutes as more than once every three months because that has been the going trend lately. There will be photos here and stories and updates and general stream-of-whatever-passes-for-consciousness-in-my-brain. Maybe bookmark it if you’re interested?

This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction. In fact, I wouldn’t say it’s a reaction at all. I’m finally making good on what I set aside this entire year to find out. I’ve found my direction, my purpose, and it has absolutely nothing to do with social media.


Great galloping greetings to you! Don’t be fooled by my chipper demeanor–everything is crap at the moment. I’m just in a good mood, which goes a long way to making things be a little less crap. Let’s cover the facts, shall we?

I went to my mother-in-law’s house yesterday to help with a bit of work Kyle was doing for her and, let’s be real, to see her horse. Kyle worked on The Broken Thing while I fed Mo mints and scritch-scratched his face. All was well until about five minutes before we left to come home, when I was suddenly pummeled in the face by allergies. Turns out, friends, that I am more allergic to horses than I am to cats, and that’s saying something. It has been close to 24 hours since we were there, and I’m still struggling to get my lungs to remember how this crazy “In with the good air, out with the bad air” thing is supposed to work.

And this, dear readers, is why everything is crap. The possibility of helping take care of Mo was dangled in front of me by fate, and swiftly taken away. I’m already heartbroken and I didn’t even have enough time to really bond with him. After learning I couldn’t foster kittens because of my allergies, I was really looking forward to taking care of another animal.

Okay, let’s admit this is a bit of a temper-tantrum on my behalf. Everything is most decidedly NOT crap. In fact, aside from the horse business, everything in life is (dare I say it?) going really well.

My children (who are no longer children) are both doing well with their adultish lives. I just get to sit back and nod approvingly when they do things now and offer hugs or high-fives. No more quizzing them for details, or making sure everything is kosher. It’s none of my business anymore, and I am a huge fan of minding my own business.

Kyle is on a temporary detail at work that has him working from home for the next six months. While those words would make a lot of married couples cringe, we surprisingly really enjoy each other’s company and are looking forward to that time under the same roof. He has an office on the second floor of Quill Cottage, complete with his own bathroom, coffee station, and a seating area for visitors. This means I have the whole first floor to myself, with my own bathroom, coffee station, an entire living room worth of seating area. Plus, we both have fridges! It’s a win-win. When we want to see each other’s faces, we just take the stairs. If I get lonely working by myself in my office, I just lug my laptop to his and BLAMMO, I have a super-sexy office mate whose butt I can pinch at will without having HR called. And so does he.

Shall we discuss my writing? I have opted to give Moonlight Market to Kindle Vella. If you’re not familiar with the platform (and no one is–it’s brand spankin’ new) that simply means each short story in the theme is broken up to read like serial fiction. While I have been emphatically told short stories are not serial fiction, I stubbornly disagree. Because these short stories all happen in the same supernatural market, the plots aren’t what is serial. It’s the setting. It is my humble (but I’m right) opinion that there is more possibility this way. Plots eventually run their course. The setting never needs to run its course.

I’d be pleased to report that Moonlight Market is moving swiftly up the charts, garnering critical acclaim and winning awards and thumbs up, but that’s not the case. Amazon, ahem, screwed the pooch on releasing Kindle Vella and so far it’s a complete sausage fest, if writers were sausages. Without reaching readers to come do The Thing, there is nothing lucrative about Kindle Vella. Considering you cannot even access Vella on Kindles, well, I have to question someone’s judgment, here. Observing the launch of Vella has been kinda like watching a 1950s reel-to-reel movie on how NOT to do something. I swear I go to my dashboard and hear lovely, upbeat orchestral music only to have it turn into sad trombones when I actually try to accomplish something.

I’m staying the course for a few more months, though. *cue sad trombones* If Amazon can un-fizzle its shizzle here, Vella could be something great. That’s a big “if” though, so I’m putting Moonlight Market on hiatus until I can see some signs of life.

In the meantime, I am starting my first draft of The Chariot, book 3 in the Spellbound series. I’m not doing anything foolish like setting deadlines or pressuring myself to get it published this year, though, because I’d like to not be experiencing burn-out through what is bound to be a very exciting and joyous autumn. The purpose of going on a year-long sabbatical was to remove pressure to free up my ability to just BE. So, this first draft will be written with a lot of grace given to the ups and downs of the process.

That’s it, friends. That’s the update. Almost halfway through my sabbatical and in no rush to get back to the harried, frenetic social life I had before. Life is too good to go back. Except the horse thing; that’s pure horseshit.

Another Quarter-Turn

For those just tuning in, I am on a year-long sabbatical from…a lot. If 2020 was good for anything, it was making folks the globe over start considering what the heck they were doing with their One Life, and I’m no exception. Don’t get me wrong, 2020 was good to me. I used the isolation time to publish three (THREE!) books, officially fulfilling my life’s goal of becoming a published author. I, uh, made it and it only took a world-wide pandemic to finally get my butt together enough to make a dream come true.

As anyone reading this will surely know, with the advent of the Covid vaccines, life is beginning to carry on. The good people of Earth are beginning to return to their own definitions of normal, but some folks are still in that “What the heck am I doing?” phase. That’s me. I’m some folks.

Getting the taste of how life could be during the lock-downs of 2020 was just an appetizer. When I was able to step away, I began to understand just how much other people, as well as society in general, hijacked my life. I began a very deep time of questioning what I had gone so long believing to be true about myself and realized I couldn’t do it while still so immersed in the system that poisoned me to begin with. You can’t heal in the environment that made you sick, after all.

Early March 2021, I declared the following 12 months to be a year-long sabbatical, during which I committed myself to opening my mind and exploring my beliefs. I stepped away from texting, social media, emailing, videos, social gatherings, and committed myself to using letter-writing as my only real source of socialization. My phone was still open for phone calls but we all know no one does that anymore, so it has been very quiet since March.

With the entirety of the spring months now under wraps, my sabbatical is moving on to summertime, which is bringing a whole host of freedom I haven’t had the last three months. Both of my children are officially grown “adults” who are responsible for themselves, which leaves Kyle and I in a place we have never been before: completely independent. Not just from our children, but also from each other.

For the first time in my life, I have no one to answer to but myself, for anything. It’s wild, to say the least. Standing at Day 1 of the rest of my life is something I never really expected to have happen, and the doors that are open to me are vast and exhilarating. So much possibility!

Still, I have another nine months of sabbatical to go through, so the very first adventure I’m on is an exploration into myself, taking deep looks into the shadows, shaking out what I find and seeing what is worth holding on to for the rest of my time with a pulse. It’s unlike any journey I’ve ever taken before and I can’t wait to get started.