I was going to write this post a week ago, but…

You’re given a month’s notice of the impending deadline. A week goes by, then two. Soon, the day arrives. It’s time for your four-hour presentation. Or your in-laws are about to knock on your front door. Or it’s your uncle’s pet iguana’s birthday.

iguana

Igor at his birthday party.
(Image courtesy Patrick Buechner via Flickr)

But you’ve only rehearsed half your presentation,  you haven’t made the guest room bed and you have no present for Igor, the Iguana. Not even a card. You scramble to throw something together. Perhaps a handmade card, with a narwhal on it. Not your proudest moment, but for some of us it happens all too often.

norwal card

Image courtesy Laine Trees via Flickr.

Procrastination. We’re all guilty. I’m procrastinating right now. There are a few things I should be doing instead of writing this post: bathing my cats (Ha! Have you ever seen a wet cat??), researching the origins of the Snuggie, or actually working on my novel.

black wet cat

Image courtesy WATERBOYsh via Flickr.

gray wet cat

Image courtesy Julie Manzerova via Flickr.

annoyed wet cat

Image courtesy Belal Khan via Flickr.

happy wet cat

Weird–this cat actually looks happy.
(Image courtesy Felicity Rainnie via Flickr)

And the farther away the deadline, the more you procrastinate. Well, you tell yourself, you have days, weeks, or months to complete the task. Why worry about it now? There are so many cute cat pictures on Pinterest that need pinning. Then, depending on the size and scope of the project, panic sets in as the deadline approaches. Instead of working on the project little by little, you slam it all out in one caffeine fueled frenzy.

Unfortunately, this process works well for me. I become focused and feverish. And I always get the job done. Except when it comes to my book.

It’s funny. The thing that is most important to me, is the thing I procrastinate finishing the most. Maybe I think I don’t have enough time to dedicate to the project, or I tell myself that I should just get these two things done first, then I’ll edit. I want an uninterrupted block of time to work, and by the time I get those two other tasks done it’s time to watch Sleepy Hollow, and I can’t miss an episode of Sleepy Hollow.

sleepy hollow

Image courtesy Loren Javier via Flickr.

The real problem, though, is that I don’t have a deadline. There is no due date for my project and all these other tasks are time sensitive. The presentation is already scheduled, the in-laws have purchased their plane tickets, and Igor was born on November 28th.

So, I’ve decided to give myself a deadline: December 31st. I will have my entire manuscript edited and in the hands of my beta readers by the end of the year.

deadline

Image courtesy Kalexander2010 via flickr.

I’ll keep you posted throughout the month on my progress. My hope is that it will keep me motivated. Knowing that I will have to announce my progress to the world, or my lovely little group of followers, should be the push I need to disable my Netflix account and edit.

Libby’s Post – What’s up with this chick anyway?

I left Evan at the Waffle House and went straight to Nerdo Vamp’s office. This was important. It had to be taken care of, like now.

I pushed open the heavy wooden door and stopped at Nerdo Vamp’s desk.

“Yes, yes, Mr. Alexander. To be certain. Although, one must remember that these are uncertain times in which we live.” Nerdo Vamp dropped his pen and turned away from me.

I marched around the desk and stood in front of him again, this time flailing my arms overhead.

office

Courtesy Chris Meller via Flickr

He shooed me away and swiveled around to face the front door

“What’s got you so worked up?”

That voice–it was Brian. He would surely take me seriously.

“Oh my god, Brian.” I flung myself into a chair and let my arms drop lifelessly over the armrests. “I am in sooo much trouble. My husband, you know, Evan, he had this woman follow me. And she knows. She knows it all. And now she’s after me. She’s going to tell everyone… about me… us…all of us. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Do I kill her? Do I turn–“

“Libby,” Brian bent over and grabbed my shoulders, “it’s fine. We’ll take care of it.”

“Take care of what?” Nerdo Vamp was now standing beside me.

Brian opened his desk drawer and pulled out a bag of potato chips. “Some woman found about Libby and is demanding to be turned, or else.”

“Right.” Nerdo Vamp adjusted his bow tie. “Libby, you will learn that there are many reasons a vampire may turn someone, and blackmail is not among them. What do you know about this woman?”

“Uh, oops.” I winced.  “Nothing, except that Evan hired her to follow me. She must be some sort of private detective.”

“Well, Libby, I suggest you inquire further. We may be supernatural, but we are not miracle workers.” He went back to his desk and turned off the computer. “Brian, get the bag.”

I found my phone and dialed Evan’s number.

“Hi, Libby, I–“

“I need to know her name,” I said before he could say anything else.

“What? You aren’t going to turn her?”

“Her name, Evan. I need to know.”

He was silent for a moment and then whispered, “Camden Scott. Her name is Camden Scott.”

“All right. And where does she work?”

I got the address hung up the phone. I looked from Brian to Nerdo Vamp. “Camden Scott.”

Brian dropped his bag and laughed.

“What?”

pretzels

Courtesy David Lofink via Flickr

Nerdo Vamp sighed and sat back down, restarting his computer. “Camden Scott, also known as Fiona Ridgeway, Sunshine Pierce and Beulah Taylor, is already a vampire.”

“Her real name is Mary Billingsley.” Brian opened a bag of pretzels and offered me a bag of Doritos. “Want some?”

I shook my head.

He rubbed some of the salt off a pretzel before popping it in his mouth. “I’ve helped her change names twice now. She’s always into something, causing trouble, creating drama.”

“And sticking her nose where it does not belong,” Nerdo Vamp added.

Brian ripped open the bag of Doritos. “She claims she’s a vampire rights activist. What was her last cause?”

doritos

Courtesy Sean MacEntee via Flickr

“I believe it was ‘Blood Bags are for Brooders’ or something along those lines.”

“That’s right.” Brian licked the cheese powder from his thumb. “She’s anti-blood bag because she believes it’s in a vampire’s nature to hunt, to kill. And if vampires deprive themselves of that basic need, the vampire becomes emotionally disturbed, anxious, depressed, what have you. They then become more likely to commit suicide or kill another vampire… and obviously, more broody.”

I held out my hand for a Dorito. “Is that true?”

“There’s some data to support the theory, but you know, there’s not a lot of vampire centered research out there.”

“I think my all time favorite has to be ‘Humans, Not Housecats’.” Nerdo Vamp nodded at Brian, “Wouldn’t you say?”

“That was a few years ago, after a certain movie came out. She had different versions: ‘Humans, Not Housecats’ and ‘Humans, Not Horses’ and my favorite, ‘Humans, Not Hamsters’. Remember the bumper stickers she handed out at the last conference?”

“Quite silly, they were.” Nerdo Vamp spun his chair back around and began typing. “Like anyone would place something so ridiculous on their automobile.”

Brian moved on to a bag of Fritos. “Yeah, I stuck mine on the refrigerator.”

fritos

Courtesy austinboardman via Flickr

“Okay, this is fascinating and all, but why is she messing with me?” I folded my arms and tried to look pouty.

“Good question, Libby,” Nerdo Vamp said, picking up his phone. “That’s what we’re about to find out.”

**Why not start the series from the beginning? Click here to read about Libby’s first day as a vampire**

Our House – A peek beneath the drywall

Some people might think we were crazy. Others might say we were foolish. But to us the next logical step was to buy a house, one that needed a little work, a little love.

We’d just gotten engaged a week prior when we found the house of our dreams: a 50-year-old foreclosure that, according to my personal standards, was barely inhabitable.

House before remodel

Note the weeds, dead grass and complete lack of curb appeal.

We fell in love instantly. I mean, what wasn’t to love? It had hardwood floors that had been painted brown, a heater that couldn’t be used, kitchen cabinets with holes in the bottom, so if items weren’t placed correctly they would fall through onto the counter tops. There was even an “addition” on the back for more space.

bathroom before remodel

The icky bathroom, with cracked tiles, filth everywhere and broken fixtures.

Kitchen before remodel

The kitchen cabinets were made from scrap two by fours and plywood. The doors didn’t line up, were falling off and just nasty.

Master bedroom before remodel

This was the master bedroom. First, you can see the floors were painted brown. Second, you can see that a bed was in the room when the floors were painted. I totally get why this happened. I understand. When I dust or vacuum, I just work around things. Moving them is way too much work. And nothing says relaxation and romance like walls painted Kermit the Frog green.

Exterior of addition

This was the addition. The back porch was framed in and “windows” had been installed.

Inside view of addition

An inside view of the addition. To make it seem more, well, like a part of the house, carpet was added and the brick wall was painted white.

First we disinfected the house from floor to ceiling because, as my fictional vampire Libby would say, “It was just like ew! You know.”

Then, with the wisdom that comes with never doing something like this before, we allotted ourselves  two weeks to work on the house before we had to relinquish my lovely, up to date, and heated condo. I bring up heated because the gas company wouldn’t turn our heat on because the furnace was unsafe. We lived without heat for about a week. I had to buy a space heater and spent each night under a mound of blankets. As most of you know. I am cold… all the time. This didn’t help.

My husband started on the bathroom, gutting it to the studs. He worked pretty quickly, but there were still frequent visits to fast food restaurants for bathroom breaks.

bathroom remodel

Nothing like showing up after a long day of work and finding your only bathroom looking like this.

bathroom remodel

I might have had a moment of fear here. Or denial. He’s got this under control. I’m sure. I’m just going to go stand in the living room and try not to touch anything.

where the toilet goes

Where the toilet goes.

Now with a toilet

The new toilet and floors.

And one of the nice things about installing your own toilet is you can do this the next time your tube of toothpaste is accidentally flushed:

toothpaste in toilet

This was my fault. Don’t ask how it happened.

Our next step was to rent a giant dumpster and begin the demolition phase of the remodel. My mom and I ripped out baseboards and doors. We even took a sledge hammer to the “addition” in the back.

Tearing out baseboards

Ripping out baseboards in the very yellow living room/dining room.

Ripping out the addition

Bye bye addition. Our insurance company considered it a hazard. It had to go. Right away.

Taking down the roof

My husband and dad taking down the roof.

So we lived without baseboards, doors, a functional kitchen and a tiled shower and tackled the remodel room by room.

kitchen cabinets

Kitchen demo. Tearing out cabinets and tile backsplash.

No kitchen cabinets

Everything was gutted and then the sink was propped up with 2 x 4s. There was a full wall between the kitchen and dining room that we tore down to make a half wall instead. The full wall was where the stove is in this picture.

The fridge back in the kitchen

The stove and sink were switched, so that the stove was against the main wall now and the sink was against the half wall. And the fridge was finally out of the dining room!

repaired walls and paint chips

Here the walls have been repaired and you can see the half wall that was created. And, of course, all our test paint spots are scattered about.

kitchen almost finished

Almost finished! It still didn’t have drawer pulls and we hadn’t replaced the back door yet, but you get the idea.

sink

A view of the sink and half wall that now opens into the dining room.

This all took multiple trips to Home Depot, usually in the same day, because it’s nearly impossible to get everything you need in one trip. And of course lots of caffeine, tolerance and faith.

One of the last projects we tackled was stripping off the paint from the addition.

paint picking

This was back breaking and time consuming, not to mention toxic. It was probably the worst part of the remodel.

It took us about to a year to complete the remodel and we walked away still in love. We even got married a little over halfway through the process. And now, when I look back at the pictures, it’s strange, but I miss those days a little bit. It was exhilarating taking on new and daunting tasks. And the thrill of completing something you’re proud of can’t be beat.

Hmmm… Could another remodel be in our future?? Are we up to the task again? I don’t know. It is nice having heat and countertops you aren’t squeamish about touching and walls with baseboards and stuff.

Living room

The once bright yellow living room/dining room decorated for Christmas.

bedroom

The master bedroom that is no longer Kermit the Frog green.

bathroom

The finished bathroom.

Kitchen today

Our kitchen today, decorated for Thanksgiving.

outside house

Our front yard with grass and flowers.

Our days were spent obsessing over paint colors, tile combinations, door styles, drawer pulls, and baseboard styles. Together we remained calm after we vetoed the 60th paint color tried in the kitchen. We managed to still love each other even if we couldn’t agree on whether the cabinets should have roll out shelves or not. Somehow we cooked delicious meals when our fridge was in the dining room and our sink was propped up by 2x4s.

And now I feel more attached to this house than anywhere else I’ve lived. It’s mine, ours. Something we created. And even if things didn’t turn out perfectly, I still consider it a success: there were zero trips to the ER for DIY related injuries, we learned tons about home maintenance and we confirmed that we could work as a team, even in the most (in my opinion) dire circumstances.