Category Archives: Personal

Is Your Life in the Black?

Published / by Annie / 12 Comments on Is Your Life in the Black?

I ran into an old friend the other day. We hadn’t seen each other for several years so we took a few moments to catch up. My friend announced proudly that he had recently purchased a house, showed me his car, and bragged about his high-paying job. He was a little worried about making the new house payment but his wife had just started her own business selling cosmetics for a popular company. Could I attend her party in a couple of weeks?

I must confess that the conversation left me feeling somewhat small. While he regaled me with the size of his paycheck, the square footage of his new home, and other things, all I had to share was that I had written a few books, lived in a small rented home, and earned minimum wage at a grocery store. The little trips I take to help animals achieve a better life couldn’t hold a candle to his latest vacation overseas so I didn’t even bother to mention them.

I went to bed that night with a heavy heart. Over the past few months even my daughter had told me that she looked down on my simple life; while she was thankful that I had sacrificed higher paying jobs in order to spend more time with her as she grew up she bluntly announced that she might have been better off if I had ignored her wishes and spent more time making money. She would have had fancier things that way.

Was I really such a failure that my own child looked down her nose at my simple lifestyle? The look on my friend’s face when he discovered that I didn’t even own a car spoke volumes.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching since that fateful encounter. I’ve examined my life thoroughly as I asked myself did I make the right decisions? If not, should I start making changes? Should I apply for a job at a local factory where a friend of mine earns almost a thousand dollars a week with overtime? I wouldn’t have the time to write anymore but I would make a lot more money. I could buy a car, save up for a house, buy some nicer clothes….

I was still tormented by these thoughts when the first of the month rolled around. As I calculated my monthly budget and paid my bills I realized something: I could pay all of my bills before they came due. I didn’t have to struggle. I don’t toss and turn at night wondering where the money is going to come from to pay my electric bill. I don’t have to hide a car to avoid repossession until I could make the payment. I’m not driving around on expired tags because I can’t afford to put insurance on my vehicle as some of my friends are doing. I don’t cringe when the phone rings and I’m certainly not in danger of losing my home because I failed to pay the back taxes.

I’m operating in the black. Each and every year my writing business pays to support itself. It has done this from the beginning. For a few years there it also brought in enough money to support my simple lifestyle without the need for a public job. While it may not be able to support me currently it is still earning a small profit.

While far from rich I have enough in the bank to pay my bills without struggle every month. I can afford the things that I need without having to rob Peter to pay Paul. I’m able to splurge on some extras and save up for more expensive items. I even have a small savings account that I contribute to.

And unlike my friend who looked at me askance when he discovered what neighborhood I called home, it doesn’t take multiple jobs to support my lifestyle. I am able to live on minimum wage at my part-time job, which allows me time to pursue my passion of writing. I have even been able to take time off from working entirely over the years and savor the experience of being a stay-at-home single mom without having to sacrifice my morals to do so.

Even better, my simple lifestyle granted me the ability to recover from an injury that would have bankrupted many that I know. It enabled me to quickly regain my financial footing when I was able to start working again.

I may not have a fancy car or a luxurious house. I may not be able to take fancy trips or turn my friends green with envy but the truth is I have something far more valuable.

I have peace of mind. I can go to bed at night without worrying over unpaid bills. I can take time off work to help save the lives of unwanted animals. I have the time to make the world a better place by sharing my knowledge and experience with others.

I can afford to pursue my passions.

Do you live in the black? Please share your stories in the comments below.

The Wisdom of Experience

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on The Wisdom of Experience

I can always tell when Daughter’s payday arrives. She rolls into the house, arms filled with purchases as she hands me her share of the bill money.

I resist the urge to ask her if she opened up a savings account. While I know from experience how unpredictable the world can be I still remember what it was like to be a fresh adult of 18. You are excited with legal freedom, brimming with the confidence of youth. You are so excited to have money of your own that it burns a hole in your pocket as you hurry to spend it.

“I’ll do that next week,” I know she’ll say if I ask.

In the meantime she announces, “Right now XX is having a big sale. Look at my new stuff!”

I stifle a sigh as I examine her purchases, nodding my head as she tells me I should splurge on a new pair of shoes or a couple of bras while they’re on sale.

“Maybe next time,” I put her off. “Right now I’m saving up for a writing computer. My old laptop won’t last forever.”

“You’re just waiting for me to get bored with my new clothes and give them to you,” she counters with a huff.

I glance down at the brand new pair of Converse sitting beneath my desk. In her rush to order them she selected a size too big. Rather than exchange them she had passed them down to me.

I am content with oversized shoes.

“You got me,” I laugh.

The time will come when she realizes that money doesn’t buy happiness. She will look back in amazement at all of the money she spent on passing fancies. She will count her change and wonder how to survive until payday.

Eventually she will look at mom wearing her handmedowns and realize that, while far from rich, that Mother has the bills all paid, money in the bank, and the contentment that comes with having enough.

I just have to wait.

A Sunny Solution

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on A Sunny Solution

Necessity is the mother of invention. It is an act of pure genius when one can use the things they already have available to solve a problem.

One of the major problems I currently face is my inability to tolerate backlit screens for very long periods of time. Even when I dim the screen as low as it can go looking at it becomes painful after a short while. Rather than cry and say that “I can’t” I started looking around for a solution.

I found it in a pair of dark sunglasses. I keep them at my computer and put them on whenever I go to work. It makes it really hard to see my keyboard in dim light, but a carefully positioned lamp takes care of that issue.

I have received a few chuckles from my daughter and friends when they see me working but I don’t care. It works and that is all that matters.

What workarounds do you use in your daily life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Busy Work…and a new Genre

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Busy Work…and a new Genre

Hello everyone!

I’ve been keeping busy writing here. I didn’t want to share what I was up to until I had something to show for it however.

I’ve managed to finally get around to publishing my little weight loss book for 99 cents. I’ve got the page up with all of the distributor links here.

And I’ve created a new pen name in order to try out another genre. My first title is a bit of erotica aimed at the geeky crowd. I’ve got it priced at 99 cents as well. I’m curious to see how it does since there’s not a huge amount of competition in the genre.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve been doing a lot of writing with the goal of entering into another genre so that I can afford to stand fast to my personal beliefs about commercializing this site. While I want to help others and make a little money doing it, I do not want to go overboard and constantly try to persuade you guys to buy stuff. I want it to be there and available if you feel it will help but not charge a fortune for the knowledge either.

What have you been up to lately? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Threes

Published / by Annie / 13 Comments on Threes

They say that death comes in threes. If that is the case then we’ve got one more coming to deal with.

A month after Emery’s death we received our second phone call. My middle daughter’s SO had passed away.

On top of all that, thanks to an apparent mixup with our new mail carrier my electric bill failed to arrive and we had our electric disconnected. I managed to scramble around to get it taken care of but still!

It has not been an enjoyable time around here.

This will pass as all things do. Unfortunately, things will never quite be the same again.

What have you been facing lately?

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Published / by Annie / 7 Comments on What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

At first I was nervous when the water started rising. “What will I do if the house floods?” I worried. I don’t exactly have the resources to move and this is the cheapest place around. The fact that it was happening 20 years to the day that I was flooded out in 1997 made me nervous as well. Would it happen again?

But then it hit me. What’s the worst that would happen?

First, I would have plenty of warning. There is a huge field that has to fill up before it gets to my place. We would be able to gather up our essential items, pack a few clothes, crate the dogs, and bug out.

Then if the house washed away we would be homeless. If the water got up that high this whole town would be considered a disaster area. There would be help available.

So you know what? We would be okay. Yeah, we would lose some stuff but who cares? Other than the critters, everything we consider essential can easily be stuffed in a couple of duffel bags apiece. For me, that means I would have a bag filled with my ancient, aging tech and important papers while the other would be filled with clothes. As for Katie, who knows what she would stuff in hers?

But the important thing is that we’re not attached to this house. We’re not even that attached to most of the stuff that’s in it. We have a small list of things that we consider essential but as for the rest? It is all replaceable.

After realizing that I relaxed. Even if the worst happened, we would be okay.

Of course, once I calmed down the water started receding. Ain’t it always the way?

Weathering Storms

Published / by Annie / 5 Comments on Weathering Storms

We have had an interesting time as of late. Not only have Katie and I lost a young friend, now the rough weather has rolled in.

That is the view across our street. The river near our house is currently at 16.44 feet. Flood stage is 20 feet, and it will touch our floor joices at 22.98 feet.

Isn’t life fun?

Fortunately it has a long way to go before I have to get worried. I will have plenty of notice before we have to worry about bugging out.

In the meantime I am working to get back on track. I wanted to let you guys know what was going on so that you would know that we are still alive.

My book royalties are starting to drift in a  positive direction. It isn’t instant but I am delighted with the change.

I’ve completed an author interview on Smashwords. You can find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/annienygma. If you have any other questions you would like for me to answer shoot me an email at annie(at)annienygma.com and I will add them to the list.

Also, Smashwords is having their Summer/Winter Sale starting March 5. I’ve deeply discounted all of my books on the site and made several of them free for the duration of the promotion. You will be able to take advantage of the sale on my profile page here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/annienygma.

That’s all for now. I will send out a reminder when the sale starts so that you can take advantage if you like.

Have a nice day!

In Memory

Published / by Annie / 7 Comments on In Memory

A friend of my daughter’s has died. The police are calling it an attempted murder-suicide.

I don’t know what to believe.

The young man in question was my daughter’s close friend. He was a regular visitor in my home. Just the other day he came over. We sat and watched YouTube videos while we all laughed over dumb stuff.

This is the young man who would come over and shovel my sidewalk in the winter. He would pick us up and give us rides when he would see us walking. He would give my daughter a lift home from school when she had to stay over.

And now we have to watch him be vilified on the news and in gossip.

They don’t know about the young man with a passion for video games. The one who would play for hours with our dog. The kid who would call me mom and tease me because he couldn’t think of me by any other name. The youth who enjoyed showing me strange videos just to watch my reaction, who loved to sneak up on my daughter and startle her just for a laugh.

He might be gone now but, like my daughter, I will remember.

An Early Birthday Gift

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on An Early Birthday Gift

Kes, who happens to be one of my oldest friends (I’ve known her since the 8th grade), listened to me vent my frustrations about writing with my current limitations. After learning about the workaround I discussed in the previous post, she decided to surprise me with an early birthday present:

A copy of Office 2007.

She found it on eBay for around $20 and is having it shipped to the house. I’m so excited! I was wondering how I would work things out once the free trial ended on my dinosaur.

Once I got the news, I started thinking. My ancient Toshiba runs Windows XP. I bought it in 2006; the very last computer that still had XP that the store stocked. I dual boot it with Ubuntu 16.04 but I kept the XP installation alive to play some old software that no longer works. The XP partition has never been online since it was last wiped. I use SneakerNet (a.k.a. a USB thumb drive) or simple transfers through my Linux install if I need any files from the Internet. This allows me to safely use the older operating system.

Since I don’t really need to go online when I’m writing (the joys of the Internet are rather distracting), I decided to essentially dedicate the XP partition to writing. I plan to install the new copy of Office on it and work to my heart’s content.

In time when my finances straighten up or I manage to repair Katie’s old laptop (it died back when I was completely nonfunctional), I will use it with Linux to go online when I need to but keep this old system as a dedicated writing machine.

So, in short, the Universe worked things out. I have been debating for years about having a computer dedicated to my writing so now I’ve got it. Hopefully it will last for many more years.

Thank you for the gift, Kes!

What Were You Doing Eight Years Ago?

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on What Were You Doing Eight Years Ago?

Time has a way of flying by when you get older. Ev Bogue reminded me of this in his latest post, as he reminisced about what he was doing eight years ago.

Just for fun, I’m going to look at the old me from eight years ago, in January 2009.

In January 2009 I was living in the projects in Western Kentucky. We had a nice home but I didn’t enjoy the person in charge of the place. It was a beautiful apartment, however–the most beautiful home I have lived in before or since.

I started writing online on Christmas of 2007 so I had been writing professionally for a year. My first submissions didn’t go online until after the new year had arrived. I wasn’t making much, just a couple of dollars a month, but I was proud of that income.

I was working at home in the Internet troubleshooting department of a major cable company. I would wake up on weekdays, log into the system, and help customers troubleshoot their internet connectivity problems. I enjoyed that job.

I had yet to start my first blog. Several of my friends were encouraging me to give it a try. I would do that shortly before I was laid off from my job in May of 2009.

I had never written a book. I didn’t even believe I had a book inside of me at that point, though it had been a dream to write books for most of my life. I could see myself with a whole bookshelf filled with the books I had written.

I had discovered minimalism so I had thinned out my possessions to what I believed was a manageable size. I wouldn’t get drastic until early 2011 when I moved back to Central Kentucky. I still owned a vehicle back then, though I rode my bike to work when the weather allowed.

Thinking back

Thinking back, I am amazed at how far I’ve come since then. I’ve published 30 books and am well on the way to writing my 31st. I’m finally working out the best way for me to write longer fiction as well.

I’ve seen great times and awful times; throughout all of them I have just kept writing. I still remember the thrill when the first person purchased the very first book I published. I remember the delight when I said farewell to my day job and spent several years living on my royalties.

I recall my disappointment when I went back to a public job when my royalties dropped and the fear I’ve had about paying my bills since I got hurt there.

And now, with my pain levels dropped, I am writing again. I believe that this is going to be a very eventful year.

What about you?

What were you doing eight years ago? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Updates and Thoughts

Published / by Annie

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to let you know what has been going on.

I’ve been slowly tinkering on the Shoestring Girl book (you can see my progress and help edit it here). It’s going slow but at least it is still going. Sending thanks and great big bear hugs to everyone who has helped so far with the book!

I’ve also been practicing with my fiction writing as both a reward and a break from the book. Friend and fellow author Ronnie Virdi (he is a great author, check him out!) is doing really well with his fiction works; in time I would like to add some more fiction titles to my repertoire in order to boost my income and get the stories out of my head that I’ve harbored there since I was a kid.

I’ve had a lot of trouble drafting longer works so I decided to play with fanfiction as practice. I’ve gotten good reviews and learned a lot. For me, I apparently work best without much of a draft. If I just focus on one scene at a time I do much better than I ever have; one of my current stories (split up into parts) is getting close to 60,000 words. Considering that most of my stories fizzle once I reach the 1,000 word mark, I am delighted with the results of this experiment.

For the record, the change might simply be the result of the head injury; my Shoestring Girl book I’m working on has topped 70,000 words, making it my biggest book to date. Either way, I’m delighted with the results.

Since I have been feeling better I had a very long talk with some friends and family members. I suggested that I might want to try going back to a public job in some fashion because, frankly, I’m sick and tired of being broke. I was shot down faster than a guy with a lame pickup line. Each and every one of them said that I have quite a ways to go before I’m ready to go back to work. I might not see it (being on the inside) but they all pointed out some serious communication and mobility issues that I still have. Due to their very valid points I am still off work.

Sigh. Did I say that I’m tired of being broke? I don’t mind living cheap but this constant struggle to pay for the basics (and not having enough to even cover that) is getting ridiculous!

On the bright side, my Social Security Disability claim is apparently still going, thanks to an attorney I hired but didn’t remember (I know, my memory stinks). A friend of mine who has helped several friends with their disability cases (she fought for seven years to get hers after being injured) has volunteered to help. She has known me since before the accident and has been one of the most vocal about not letting me drop the case to try to work. As she put it, I still have a lot of trouble understanding verbal conversation, especially when there are distractions, as well as trouble remembering and following instructions. She said that someone trying to train me in a new position would likely suspect that I was on drugs, despite the fact that I don’t take any. Ouch!

She also pointed out that while I am trying (via my writing) to pay the bills, that I have worked my whole life, am thus qualified for the assistance, and that said assistance would make things easier while I strive to get my writing royalties back up to a living wage and get on my feet overall.

As for my current situation, I have had to sacrifice my MagicJack because I could not afford to pay the annual fee. I am currently using the Talkatone app on my old iPad mini to make and receive phone calls as a result. It doesn’t ring in half of the time but it is better than nothing.

I’ve managed to keep the water and the Internet turned on, and while the electric bill has a balance I have yet to receive a disconnect notice. Thanks to you guys I’ve managed to keep the landlord happy but here soon I’m probably going to have to seek assistance to cover that.

We’ve got food, though, so that is a very good thing. We’re still doing laundry in buckets so we have clean clothes as well.

I am going to warn you, however. If I can’t pull a rabbit out of my hat I will have to relocate this blog to a free host if I can’t come up with the renewal fee in a couple of months. I will work to keep the website name (I believe I should be able to manage that). I’m also considering the creation of a mailing list to keep in touch with you in the event that worst comes to worst. I will keep you posted on that, so don’t worry. If you check the website and my Facebook page you will know how to find me.

That’s all I can think of right now. If you have any questions just leave them in the comments.

Take care!

~Annie

Old Posts

Published / by Annie

Thanks to the efforts of reader JG, I am now able to go through the old posts that I sacrificed to defend this website.

I am slowly going through them and plan to put the best of the stand-alone posts up one by one, Throwback Thursday style.

As for the rest, since they are a bit like a journal, I am going to put them all together and release them as a journal of sorts. This way those who are interested can start at the beginning and read all the way through to where we are today. Please be warned that it is going to take a bit for me to do this; I want to finish up my current book project before I start.

Thanks to everyone for sticking with me!

AND…

Thank you my friend for rescuing the posts. You are wonderful!

~Annie

P.S. How do you like the new website design? Katie is the one that designed not only the header image but the little icon that shows up on your tab. That girl has some serious talent!