Friday, February 10, 2017

Should I buy this thing?

Ever since I really committed to minimalism about a year and a half ago, I've been trying to figure out how to cope with the constant pressure to buy more. I do my best to stay away from the Youtube ads, the radio spots, and the billboards and signs all around me, but I am not immune. There are times when I impulsively think, "Yeah, I should really buy that new pair of jeans or fancy-smelling soap or book from the library that I started reading but didn't finish before I had to return it."

I'm getting better at figuring out when that voice is a reasonable one because I legitimately do need something and when the voice is tempting me to purchase something I'll later regret. But it's a battle. Constantly.

Of course this isn't a minimalists-only dilemma. I think it's something we're all familiar with to some degree. Most people I know don't make enough money to buy everything on their want lists and some people I know can't even afford everything on their need lists. But being a minimalist does mean that I tend to argue longer with that voice that says "you should just buy it."

Me: Hey, I just ran out of this thing. We should probably buy some more.
Also Me: Hm. Is it food?
M: Yes.
AM: Is it in your budget?
M: Uh . . . maybe?
AM: Whatever, let's just buy it. 
M: Really?
AM: Shrug. It'll be gone soon anyway.

(Now you know why my food budget is always the first financial casualty of the budgeting month.)

M: Hey. Now I ran out of this other thing. We should probably buy more.
AM: Is this thing food?
M: No. This is a non-food thing.
AM: Oh. Bummer. Are you sure we need it?
M: Well . . .
AM: Is it toilet paper?
M: Yeah. 
AM: . . . Are we out of Kleenex too?
M: . . . I'll check.

M: Hey, so we're out of this other thing.
AM: Is it food?
M: No. It's not food.
AM: And you're sure we need it?
M: Pretty sure.
AM: Have you tried living without it for a week?
M: . . . 
AM: And how did that week go?
M: Um. Fine? I guess?
AM: Great! Call me back in like six months if you still think we need the thing.

M: So about this thing that we're out of . . . ?
AM: Right. If it's not in the budget, I think you're just going to have to find it for free somewhere. Or can you make it yourself or something? I really don't want to buy the thing.
M: I know you don't, but it would be so much easier! And that would make me happy.
AM: Happier than a vacation? Happier than getting out of debt? Happier than paying off your tiny house?
M: You're right. We don't need the thing.

M: I think we might need to buy a thing.
AM: What now?
M: You know your favorite book? Well, I dropped it in a mud puddle and I had to throw it out. It was a mess.
AM: What?!!???!? We can't live without that! Quick! Grab the debit card! Find the Amazon page!! Buy the thing!!!!
M: Great! And while we're here on Amazon can I show you this other thing?
AM: Wait, did you murder one of my books just to get me on Amazon so you could try to trick me into buying another thing??
M: No comment.

These kinds of conversations swirl around in my brain at least once or twice a day. Frankly I'm used to them now. They're almost comforting. Especially when I compare them to this unsettling paradox:

M: You know you're a minimalist, right?
AM: Obviously.
M: Well, then why do you still write books and hope people will buy them?
AM: What are you talking about?
M: Well, books are things.
AM: So?
M: I'm just saying, you're all anti-things now. "The endless production and consumption of pointless things is only hastening the impending demise of our planet." That's what you're always telling me.
AM: Yes. Right.
M: So . . . doesn't that mean you should stop producing your books?
AM: But I like writing my books!
M: But the books you write turn into things. That's what publishing is. Books get turned into things and a lot of those books are things that people don't want and don't need.
AM: I'm not listening to this! I don't want to stop writing books! It makes me happy.
M: But what if someone gives your book to some sweet unsuspecting person who doesn't want it and then your book just takes up room on a shelf somewhere and gets in the way of making that lovely person's life as simple and as minimalist as she might like it to be?
AM: Stop it! The guilt! It pains me!
M: . . . So are we like done writing books now? Because I can think of a lot of other things we could be doing with our time.
AM: No. We're not done. I still like writing books.
M: Fine. I'll just go talk to your friend Writer's Block.
AM: I wish you wouldn't do that. 
M: Isn't that Writer's Block over there sitting next to Procrastination?
AM: No. That's Laziness. Writer's Block is the one hanging out with Netflix over there by Facebook and Instagram.
M: Oh yeah. I like those guys.
AM: Sigh. So much for that new novella I was plotting.

In case you didn't follow all that, I'm still going to keep writing. In fact, I just got my contract for another year of Tiny Talks, so that's exciting! And in related news, this book arrived in my publisher's warehouse last week! I love my board books! They're so cute and happy. I can't wait to see these illustrations in person!

I don't have my author copies yet because I've been too lazy/busy to call my publisher and ask for them, but when I do get my copies, I'll probably give as many as I can away to my blog readers. I think I'll be doing a lot more of that from now on—giving my books away to people who genuinely want them. It's what some other minimalist writers I know do, and it will help me resolve the cognitive dissonance I feel whenever I start to think of my books as things.

I know it might sound extreme that I'm worrying about this, but to me it's a little like being a vegetarian who works in a meat-packing factory. The vegetarian doesn't believe that people should eat meat, but if everyone stopped eating meat, the vegetarian would be out of a job. So while I'd like people to stop buying things they don't need, if people stop buying my books, I won't get to publish them anymore, and that would be sad for me.

If any of you have thoughts on how to resolve this inner conflict (preferably thoughts that don't involve giving up on minimalism or my book writing), I'd be happy to hear them. For now, I'm just going to try not to think about it too much. And there's nothing better than a Netflix binge to help you stop thinking! I'm so glad Netflix is not a thing and that it doesn't have ads to pressure you into buying more things. If anyone needs me, I'll be watching the rest of Call the Midwife.

Oh, and do check back soon if you want a free copy of Jesus Was Just Like Me! I should have some to give away in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What's up with your tiny house?

So here's what's going on: the place where I had planned to leave my tiny house for a few months and let it be rented out to people overnight has been shut down by the city. Boo. So much for that awesome plan.

Now we're back to square . . . Well, I don't want to say square one because I'm definitely further along in the going-tiny process than I was a year ago. I mean, I still have a house. It's perfect for me. I designed it for exactly what I want and need. I've paid for it and borrowed money to do so. And that's all well and good, BUT . . . I don't have anywhere to put it. So maybe we're at square 1.5 or something.

Anyway, I've known about this for a couple weeks now but I've been avoiding talking about it on my blog or social media because I like to have a plan in place before I tell people about my problems. It helps me to feel like I have things under control. Like even if I haven't totally figured it out yet, I know where I'm going and I can probably get there on my own, thank you very much.

This time, however, I really don't have a plan. And it's been a little rough. I've been questioning all sorts of things like, should I even go tiny anymore? Should I sell my house and pay off my debts and start over again? Should I try to find a place to live in my house now? Should I put in storage for awhile? And ultimately who am I if I'm not the tiny house girl, you know? Like where is my life going and what do I want to do with it and who do I want to be?

I tell ya, there is nothing like a lack of tiny house parking to bring on an existential crisis.

But after all this questioning and avoiding and getting more and more frustrated, I've finally decided to start talking about this problem because I need help. I have tried my darndest to find a solution for where to put my tiny house, and it's just not working. Now maybe this means that it's a problem that's not meant to be fixed. That would be sad, but if that's the case, and it's really what Heavenly Father wants for me, I could accept that. I'd cry about it, but I'd be okay.

But there is another possibility. Maybe the reason I haven't been able to find parking on my own is that I need to learn how to ask for help and rely on my community. So that's what I'm doing.

I've been researching and researching the zoning laws in Alameda County and the surrounding areas, and as I suspected, there is just no way to legally live in a tiny house on wheels around here. (Except in an RV park, which is simultaneously too sketchy for my comfort zone and too expensive for my budget.) However, I have learned that it's legal to park an RV or tiny house on private property in a backyard or a side yard, as long as you don't live in it.

I think that's what I'm looking for—at least for now. Not forever, obviously. I would like to live in my house eventually. But for now, I need to be realistic and admit that all I can afford is to put the thing in storage and wait until I've shifted some things around financially.

The other option I'm considering, and this may still happen, is to move my house up to Clearlake and live in an RV park up there. That situation is within my budget and totally legal, it's just not in the best neighborhood and also I'd be living in the middle of nowhere, two hours from everything. Not ideal. I mean, great for writing a novel or something, but maybe not so great for my social life. I am an introvert, but this would be extreme.

I guess I just needed to let you guys know what's happening in case I do decide to up and move somewhere again without much warning.

It's all part of the adventure, right?

But in the meantime, if you have (or someone you know has) some extra space in your backyard and you want a super cute playhouse for your grandkids or something, I've got just the thing. I might even be able to pay you to keep it there. You just can't sleep in it or use the kitchen or the bathroom or anything that might count as "living" in it.

The other possibility is that I might live somewhere "illegally" for awhile. And if that happens, I'm totally going to redo my blog to give it a ninja theme or maybe camouflage or James Bond or something. Ooh! Or pirates! I like this plan.

In case you're unfamiliar with all the legal issues surrounding tiny house living, here's a good primer article:

Are Tiny Houses Legal? Yes.

I have gone back and forth on how I feel about living "illegally" or a-legally, as I prefer to say. I don't like the idea of living outside the law. I am a total rule follower, anyone will tell you that. But in this case, I actually think the rules are kinda wrong. I don't want to get up on a soap box or anything, but it's really hard to find super small housing in America, and I think that's a shame. And to be honest, it has everything to do with the construction and building industries and a lot less to do with what people actually want and need.

Obviously, I wish there were more options for fully-above-board tiny house living. That would be awesome for a lot of reasons. I will say that things are getting better. There are way more tiny house communities now than there ever were in the past. Someday, I'd like to try to join one or maybe even help start one. But as far as an immediate solution, I'm just not ready. And once again, there's the whole budget thing.

So for now it's either storage, Clearlake, or living a-legally. If you think you might know of another option or if you'd be interested in letting me store my house at your place, I'd love to chat with you. Also, if anyone has a truck (like a Ford F-150 or bigger) and wants to let me borrow it or earn some extra money for towing a tiny house around, I'd love to hear from you too.

If you want to rub it in my face, tell me I'm irresponsible for getting myself into this mess, or just say you told me so, you're totally welcome to do that too. I get it. Really, I do. And It's true. You did tell me so, and I don't know what I'm doing. I'm sure many of you (maybe most) won't understand why I'm so set on trying to do this really-hard-to-do thing. But that's okay. You don't have to understand. I may not know what I'm doing, but I do still know why I'm doing it. I guess right now that's all I've got.

Oh. And I've got a tiny house, and it's super cute. I suppose that's something.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Do you have a new Primary book out for 2017?

Yes! I sure do. Thanks so much to everyone who's asked me about this.

My 2017 Primary book is called Tiny Talks: Choose the Right

You'll notice that this year we are back to the Tiny Talks title, but don't let that fool you. This book incorporates a lot of the same format that I used for 2016 in Time to Share. That means that in addition to talks for kids to give, you'll also find lessons, activities, videos, songs, and scriptures that go along with each week's theme. Plus, I've included a sample outline for your annual Primary program in Sacrament meeting.

It's kind of hard to tell from this small picture, but trust me, there is a LOT of stuff in this book. A lot more than I ever put into Tiny Talks.

I really appreciate everyone who helped me write this book, including so many of you who contributed names for me to use in the talks and stories. For your information, I used the following names in this book.


Again, thank you so much to everyone who sent in names. I wanted to use them all, but there just wasn't enough room. If I missed your child's name this year, I'll definitely keep it in mind for next year.

I also need to give a big shout-out to all my amazing friends and colleagues at Cedar Fort, especially Shawnda, McKell, and Chelsea who worked so hard on this book. I love the collaborative partnership I have with you guys. It's great to still feel so involved in the publishing process even though I don't work at Cedar Fort anymore. Thanks for bringing my ideas to life, ladies!

Finally thanks so much to each one of you who read my blog and use my books. I really hope my books are helpful to you. I love writing these Primary books, and I feel so grateful each year that I'm able to do this. Thanks for all your support!

And to show you how thankful I am to all you blog readers, I'm going to give away five copies of this brand new book to you folks. All you need to do is share a link to this blog post on Facebook and tag me in it or message me to show me that you did it. Super easy, right?

If you're one of the first five I'll send you a private message on Facebook so I can arrange to send or deliver your book to you.

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season and that you're looking forward to a happy and exciting new year ahead. Yay for 2017!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What's it like to be a minimalist at Christmastime?

It's the most wonderful time of the year, folks! I hope you're enjoying your holiday festivities so far.

Christmas is awesome for so many reasons, but in the past couple of years as I've really started embracing minimalism, there have certainly been challenges around this time of year. I've tried to figure out how to do Christmas as a minimalist, but I'll admit it's been a struggle. I have high hopes for this year, though. I think I've finally figured it out, or at least I'm getting pretty close.

Part of that has to do with the passage of time: most of my friends and family have now gotten used to not giving me things. And part of it has to do with really focusing my philosophy of minimalism in the past year: what minimalism means to me, how I practice it, and how much more I enjoy giving things away than getting them.

But first, a look at Christmases past. As a child I remember loving Christmas. I loved the anticipation, wondering what Santa would bring. I loved decorating the tree and laying underneath it, looking up at the lights. I loved the music and the treats and spending time with my family.

But I will confess, I didn't always love my actual gifts. I'd pretend to like them because I knew that people who loved me had spent a lot of time picking things out for me and had spent money they didn't always have to make my Christmas special. I always felt so guilty when I didn't genuinely like a gift. It felt like a burden to have this thing that I didn't want, didn't know what to do with, and had to keep because I couldn't bear the thought of offending the person who'd given it to me.

After ten years or so of this, I started to realize what was happening. Before then, I wasn't sure how to process the feelings of post-Christmas let-down. It soon became clear that I'd have to make Christmas about more than the presents or I'd continue to be disappointed. Luckily, this realization coincided with me starting to enjoy singing in choirs. Suddenly there was a new reason to love Christmas—all the caroling and choir practices with friends helped me look forward to the season. That got me through to college, when Christmas became all about the joy of traveling home to California, spending time with my family and enjoying the comparatively warm weather and the break from school between semesters.

Yet still there was that nagging guilt of not liking all my presents and of feeling frustrated by the consumerism, the busy-ness, and the burnout that often come along with the Christmas season. Christmas is a hard time to say no to things. You want to make the most of it and keeping adding more and more to your traditional celebrating. It seems like the right thing to do.

Simplifying can seem Scrooge-y. You're supposed to want more presents and you're supposed to enjoy picking out the perfect thing for each of your beloved friends and family members. You're not supposed to think about the money gifts will cost you and the fact that so many of these decorations end up in the trash or wasting away in the garage for the other 11 months of the year.

Christmas is supposed to be about more, not less.

But it doesn't have to be that way. As I've discovered in the past couple of years, Christmas can be about experiences instead of things and spending precious time with family and friends. Even at Christmastime, less can be more. A lot more, in fact.

It's all in how you approach the holiday. If you're like me and your childhood Christmases were focused on physical presents, it's going to take a little adjusting to get into the minimalist mindset. Instead of making a list of things you want to receive or keeping your eyes out for that perfect gift for someone on your list, think about all the time you could save not shopping and how that time could be spent creating memories with your family. Maybe you could try making a list of fun things you want to do with the people you love in the coming weeks or months.

Another important part of a minimalist Christmas is learning to say no to invitations to do more. It's going to take some work and conscious effort, but you really don't have to participate in that cookie exchange or attend your coworker's brother's holiday bash, even if you've been doing these things for years. Instead, focus on creating quiet moments to reflect on the beauty of the season. And do say yes to the invitations you really care about. Just remember that burnout is real and it's very important to know your own limits.

One idea that can be really fun is deciding not to spend any money on holiday decorations. I did this a couple of years ago, and it was super fun. I used paper and craft supplies that I already had around my house, plus some used lights and a mini-Christmas tree that were re-gifted from a family member. I made snowflakes and paper chains to hang up in my windows. Then when Christmas was over, I was able to throw most of my decorations away and not have to store anything for next year. I like all-white Christmas lights because you can use them all year, not just at Christmastime. When you have a tiny house, it's hard to justify storing things you only use 1/12th of the time, so stuff like that is important.

I'm not saying that it's bad to buy presents or that you should deprive yourself of the joys that come with this time of year. I just want to point out that there are other ways to celebrate Christmas. I used to get a lot of joy out of giving physical gifts to my friends and family. These days, I get a lot of joy out of giving them experiences and spending time with them. Instead of feeling entitled to boxes of presents, I've found myself feeling excited about donating to causes I care about.

Before you get the wrong idea, I want to point out that I'm not some sort of Christmas saint. I'm not perfect at this stuff. I still feel the pull to do and buy and be more, but I know that in the end, I'm happier with less. Minimalism is not the only way to focus yourself on the true spirit of Christmas, but it's working really well for me.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holidays are completely magical whether you go minimalist or maximalist this year. Here's to a wonderful Christmas season and a brand new year to come!

Oh, and speaking of a new year, if you're looking for help with Primary this coming year, I've got a few extra copies of this book that I'd be happy to give you. Just leave me a comment here or on Facebook and I'll see what I can do!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Why aren't you moving into your house? (And where are you moving next?)

Oh, guys. I have so much to say on this topic and I want to make sure I say it all the right way. That's a lot of pressure for a post, or at least a lot more pressure than I normally feel. That's why I've been putting off posting about this. But now that my house is done and settling into its temporary home, it feels like it's time to address this.


Does anyone else feel like I've already talked about this? Because I feel like I have. And I'll likely have to talk about it again. That's how my life is going to go now. I'll spend a lot of time explaining my unusual choices to people for the rest of forever. Good thing I like to write.

So to answer the immediate question . . . I'm not moving into my house yet because I'm not ready to move into my house yet. And there are a few reasons why that's the case, but most of them come down to my finances.

I know money isn't the most exciting thing to talk about (or read about) so I'll try to make this part quick. Basically I've never been a fan of debt, and I've had to take on a lot of it in order to build this house. I had always planned to rent a space to park my house, but when I switched my plans from living in Utah to living in California, I realized that it was going to cost me a lot more to park/rent land here than there, not to mention the added expense of towing the house to California and paying higher taxes on it here.

Don't get me wrong; I'm totally glad I moved back to California. That was always in my long-term plans, as was working remotely. So I'm super glad that I'm now doing both of those things. But because I made those major life changes (moving and transitioning to working remotely), I decided I didn't want to change all that at once, plus move into my tiny house, and have to worry about all of these bills at the same time.

I needed some breathing room and I needed time to make sure I didn't overwhelm myself. Once upon a time in my 20s, I'm sure I would've jumped into all of this willy-nilly. But now as a wise, old 30-something, I have learned that as much as I love change, even I have my limits.

So I decided to plan for some transition time. At first I was considering putting my house in storage temporarily. That would be cheaper than renting a space where I could live in it. But then I found an even better solution: a tiny house bed and breakfast where they rent out tiny homes on Airbnb. This means that instead of costing me money, my house has now become an investment property and will make me money.

I don't know exactly how much money it will end up making me, but anything is better than the alternative: paying to have it sit in storage.

Um . . . let's see. Were there other reasons I wanted to mention? I talked about finances; I talked about not changing everything all at once. What else? Oh! Right! The whole parking situation.

So there are very few places in the Bay Area where you can legally park a tiny home. I don't want to get into a long discussion about zoning laws because that's even more boring to talk about than finances. To sum up: the best options are usually RV parks and some of those are really sketchy and if they're anywhere close to civilization, they're out of my price range. The funny thing is, my parents' house has plenty of parking space for a boat or RV. My tiny house would totally fit in our backyard. But the zoning codes prohibit it. You're not even allowed to store an RV there, let alone live in it.

What I will most likely end up doing, once I'm financially ready for this, is move my house to a tiny-house-friendly RV park somewhere on the West Coast either in Portland, southern Oregon, or Northern California. When will that be? I don't know for sure. But definitely not earlier than May 2017. And possibly as late as May 2018. Somewhere in that range.

Of course, I would like it to be sooner. I bought this house because I want to live in it. But I also want to be smart about this whole process and not end up moving in and then having to sell my house immediately because I can't afford to pay for it.

If anyone is actually interested in the full financial picture here, I would be happy to lay it all out for you. I am super open about my money and how I work through all that. But I'm omitting it here because I don't want to bore anyone to death.

In the meantime, until I can afford to actually live in my house, I am staying with my parents temporarily and I might start looking for another place to live with friends in the Bay Area. Or I might move to Arizona.

What?! Arizona?!


Want to know why? Because yesterday I made a whole list of places that I've always wanted to live/visit/see. And then I categorized them according to how long I think I'd want to stay there.

(Side note: It's kind of mind-boggling to me that I've finally reached the point where I can make plans like this. I've always wanted to create a flexible life where I could move as often as I wanted to without disrupting anything major. Now that I've got a mobile job, a mobile house, and a slimmed down minimalist lifestyle, I can really do it. It's so great!)

Anyway, there were only eight places that made the list of locations where I'd like to stay for a year or more. And one of them was Arizona. I know it's a big state, but I haven't narrowed it down any more than that yet. Probably somewhere close-ish to Phoenix, though. Or Tucson maybe.

I also might move to Eureka. That was on the list.

Or Santa Cruz. Or San Luis Obispo. Or Monterrey.

Are you seeing the trend? Most of the other seven places are in California. And a lot of them are locations where I would like to park my tiny house someday. But Arizona stuck out to me as a place where I wouldn't necessarily want to live in a tiny house, mostly because with a tiny house, outdoor living becomes super important and in Arizona the outdoors are sometimes inhospitable what with the extreme heat and all.

The way I see it, the next six months to eighteen months are like my last chance to live with friends or experiment with living situations that are not so tiny before I settle into my little house permanently. Or at least for a long time.

Speaking of the long term, this listing-places activity that I did yesterday also helped me to map out my plans for the next five-ish years. They look like this:

2017: Rent out my tiny house, live at home/in the Bay Area, or move somewhere like Arizona.
2018: Move into my tiny house in an RV park in Portland, Eureka, the Delta, or maybe central California or southern Oregon.
2019: Take a West Coast trip with my tiny house. Start near Seattle. Stay in RV parks for a few weeks at time. Work my way down to the San Diego area.
2020: Do the same thing on the East Coast. Start in Maine. End up in the South. Maybe head to Texas on my way back West.

So there you have it, folks, my entire life plan for the next five years. I know it would be more exciting if I were quitting my job and doing all of this cool traveling and tiny living right now, but not only would that be unrealistic financially, it would also just be too much for me. That kind of life makes for awesome television, but the drama is only sustainable for so long before you burn out and wind up selling your tiny house and moving right back into regular old traditional housing.

I don't want to do that. I want to experience my tiny house journey in a way that makes sense for me, even if that means waiting and being patient and doing things slowly.

Of course, no one really knows what the future holds. My list of places where I'd like to live might change dramatically before I ever get a chance to take my tiny house on the road. Who knows? I might even get married and that could change everything. But I feel pretty good about the fact that I have a plan for now. And I'm really excited that my tiny house is done and that it will be waiting for me whenever I'm ready to move into it.

Sorry this post was so boring and informative. I'll finish it off with a picture I took at the beach yesterday because life is lovely and when you have less stuff and less money you have more time to enjoy all the beautiful things around you that don't cost a thing.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What should I write for NaNoWriMo?

I know this will sound strange, but sometimes I forget that I write books. I'm not one of those authors that diligently pulls out my laptop every day and hammers out a thousand words before breakfast. And because most of the books I've written have been short or on supertight deadlines, I can usually get them done in a month or less and then go on my merry way and not worry about writing again for awhile.

But occasionally something does happen that makes me remember. This week it was getting the interior illustrations for a board book I wrote awhile back. It looks so cute! To be honest, I'd almost forgotten all about this book in the midst of tiny house building and moving and everything else that's been going on lately.

I feel sort of bad. Like I've been neglecting my authorial duties by not devoting more time and energy to this project. But the truth is that there's a lot of waiting time when you're an author. You submit an idea weeks or months before you hear back about it and then it often takes over a year before it really becomes a book. So I guess the only difference with this book is that I haven't been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I've been busy with other life things.

Anyway, all of this is to say that while I can't show you the interior pictures, I do have a cover I've been meaning to reveal for awhile.

Isn't it cute?

This book comes out in February and is already available for pre-order on Amazon, so if you're interested, feel free to check it out there.

And in related news, I'm pretty sure I'm going to do National Novel Writing Month again, or at least attempt it. For those who've never heard of it NaNoWriMo happens every year in November and you have to write 50,000 words in a month. I've attempted it off and on for five-ish years now, but I only won for the first time last year.

I like it as an exercise in writing discipline, which, as mentioned above, is not something I usually have. It doesn't necessarily translate into a finished product because you're writing so quickly, but it's definitely a start and it's just fun to write with lots of other people in this big group-writing event.

My problem with doing it this year is that I've been really indecisive about what to write. I have tons of ideas, but I can't seem to settle on any particular one. That's why I need your help. I'm going to list my ideas below and I would love it if you would vote here in the comments or on Facebook if you have an opinion about which one I should write for NaNo.

1. LDS romance, characters would probably be just out of college or a late 20s, set in DC, California, or maybe New York.

2. The third book in the Jane Journals series. (The second one has been done for awhile; it just needs more polishing, which I've been putting off until after I finished my tiny house.)

3. Middle-grade light fantasy about a family with five kids who find another world in the woods, set in summertime.

4. Historical/contemporary story with two plotlines, one in the past and one in the present. Both tied to a specific place. Probably early 1900s for the historical story. Not totally sure yet what would happen in either story. Most likely would involve some drama and romance. Possibly LDS.

5. Rewrite of my first novel that I never published. YA. Set in contemporary San Francisco about a school for psychics. First in a series. Or I could rewrite it to be a standalone.

6. Fairytale retelling, probably Hansel and Gretel. Maybe Cinderella. In either a completely new setting or else in a historical setting. I'm not sure. I've just always thought it would be fun to try one of these.

I may also decide to go into it with absolutely no forethought and just start typing and see what happens. That could be interesting. But I feel like that might just result in something completely unsalvageable. I don't know. I tend to use NaNoWriMo as a time to experiment with a new genre or flex my writing muscles with a point of view or a tense that I don't normally write. But maybe I want to go easy on myself this year. After all, I did just move and build a house.

Which brings me to some unrelated news: I am officially back in California and it feels so good! My house will be done this week and will be delivered to The Hideaway Ramona, which is where it will stay for at least the next six months to a year while I figure out where to put it/pay off more of the loans it took me to build it/trade my little car in for a truck that can pull my house. I'll be heading down there next weekend to make sure it's all settled in place. I'm not entirely sure when I'll be moving in and actually living tiny, but for now I'm just excited to be a tiny house owner if not a tiny house dweller (yet).

This whole process of going tiny has taken me years to execute, so I figure what's a few more months or another year in the grand scheme of things? Besides, I have some really fun plans for trips and things coming up to fill my time while I'm waiting. Now that I'm working from home I feel like I have a lot more flexibility both for traveling and for life in general, which I definitely want to take advantage of.

So stay tuned for more updates. And if you've got an opinion about what I should write or another idea you think I should consider, feel free to comment here or on Facebook. I'm looking forward to getting started on another book!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

When are you moving?

That is such a good question! And I really wish I could give you a specific answer. In fact, I'm pretty sure I care a lot more about the answer to that question than any of you do right now. But . . . I don't know for sure because the answer to the question of when I am moving is: when my house is done.

And when will that be? I don't know.

Last time I saw my tiny house it was two framed walls, not connected to a trailer.

And as far as I know, it still looks like that. However, that was four days ago, so there's a possibility that my builder has made some progress since then. On the other hand, he is also working on three other houses right now. Here's some pictures of one house that's about the same size mine will be.

One thing that has caused a little bit of delay is that there was some trouble with the way my trailer was registered. When you buy a tiny house, you can have it registered as a travel trailer, a park model RV, or a standard utility trailer. The trailer for my house was registered as a utility trailer, which is not ideal because that makes it harder to get the right kind of insurance for my house and to park it at an RV park, should I ever want to do that, which I very well might.

So. There's that. The house in the pictures above was actually built on the trailer that mine would have been built on, if it had been registered the right way.

I'm trying to be as patient as possible through all this. I keep reminding myself that I have waited a whole year to make this tiny house dream happen (not to mention the four years before then when I was seriously considering it as a future possibility). So a few more weeks won't hurt anything. But on the other hand, I am so excited to get back to California that any delay at this point just feels like torture.

The good news is that Friday was my last day working in the office, so now I am totally ready to move from a work standpoint. I'm really excited about working full-time remote. I know there will be some challenges and things to adjust to, but I'm just so grateful to have a job with the kind of flexibility that allows me to go wherever I need to in order to live the life that I really want to live—in a tiny house, in California. 

I will keep you all posted on the progress of my house, but right now it's looking like I won't be moving until the 22nd or 29th of October. And for Utah people, I'm still planning to hold a tiny open house before then, so I'll let you know when that might be happening too. Although, with everything so up in the air it'll probably be a really last-minute invite, like, "Hey! Who wants to come see my tiny house TONIGHT! For one night only!" I'm sorry in advance about that.

Another good thing that's come of me building this house (even though it's tiny and even though I'm not actually building it) is that this process has definitely taught me a few lessons in how to be flexible and patient. I generally think of myself as very easy-going and chill, but even I have my limits, and I think it's good for me to be tested on those limits every once in awhile.

It's just really hard to be patient when life is about to get a million times more awesome!!!!