Down the rabbit hole, learning about publishing a book….

Yikes! My wife wants to be a writer; I enjoy goofing off (It’s no secret). Anyway, the original plan was she writes and I learn how to do audio books, maybe hers one day. I built a room in our basement, gathered the required gear. Sitting down at my computer, scrolling through endless books, I had an epiphany. Not to offend anyone but 50% of the auditions I clicked on were unreadable. Poor grammar, run-on sentences, unedited. I couldn’t  attempt to read some of this stuff. So I threw in the towel and told the wife I will try to write. She rolled her eyes and laughed at me…

As someone who is all in on everything I do, I started the research on publishing. “Uh, what?” I kept saying to myself. From the start I envisioned writing a book, trying to send it to an agent or editor then a traditional publishing company. They don’t market it for you? Really? That can’t be!  Three hours of research later and my wife’s constant “I told you so” I accepted the truth. You must market your own book.

Do you need an editor?  Uh, how do I acquire one of those? Well, you send your manuscript around and if it’s any good someone will edit for you. If it stinks? Well, maybe you need more self editing.

What is a graphic artist and why do I need one? I can use GIMP. Do you want to sell any books? I hadn’t even stumbled upon all the marketing research yet.  How could I have been so blind? 

When I started my wife failed to mention writing the manuscript was only a ¼ of the work. These “authors” are dedicated. I poke fun but seriously, it is a monstrous undertaking. A daunting task of writing, researching and learning everything you can about the craft before publishing your first book. In a later blog maybe I can give some pointers.  I am still learning and digesting all the information out there.

I’m currently at 13,000 words and going strong. My goal of 18,500 by Sunday night looks achievable. I have high hopes of it being readable. If not, we have a shredder. 

Office Transformation

If you are like us, you dream of having one of those magically clean and organized offices you see on Pinterest or in magazines. But in reality, it looks like this.


Our office was in shambles. It has been a space we piled anything and everything out of the way, since moving in. In this picture alone you can see a box, a kitty condo and some office stuff. We have been using 2 unpainted doors, 2 cabinets and a saw horse as a table. We wanted to put together a nice office. 2 houses ago. It was time.

The back wall was the best location for the desk to occupy. It gave us plenty of work space while making the room feel and look bigger. We measured and decided one full length door and a cut door would be better than two short doors. These are hollow core doors we had on hand. (AKA free!) We do not suggest weighing them down too heavily, but for our needs they should work fine.

We drilled a hole for the cords from the existing inlet hole using a 1 1/4 inch hole saw.

As you can see the inside of the door is hollow. We decided which paints we wanted to use. Reuse if you can.

Dede painted the cabinets white. We used upper cabinets. Lower cabinets are 35″ high, too high for a desk. The hanging cabinets we used measure 30″ high. This was a perfect height to work at. There are a variety of options at your local hardware store. Prices range from $50 to $100 or more. We picked the lower end of the price range. We went to our local restoration store first, but found nothing we could salvage.

I started out painting these with a dark gray; I noticed if I brushed it out it gave it a cool, wood toned look. I applied one coat, not applying to heavy of a coat letting the brush strokes work to my advantage.

While the doors dried, we took 2 10″x1″x10’. I made 2 cuts at 3 1/2 feet and 2 cuts at 1 foot. We had two boards at 3 1/3’ and three boards at 1’.

Starting on one side apply a thin strip of wood glue on each end of the 1’ boards. I used the brad nailer to tack in a few 2″ brads to hold them in place. Repeat for other side then flip over. Insert the center piece, wherever you want. We made two shelves, off centering them to compliment each other. Then we used 2″ wood screws to secure it. We later painted these turquoise.

Apply an initial coat of polyurethane curing for 3 to 4 hours, followed by a light sand with 220 grit paper. Apply one more coat, make sure the surface is free of debris. We let it sit for 24 hours.

We are hanging the boxes with a French cleat. It’s a piece of wood ripped down the middle at a 45-degree angle. We used a 8″ wide board. After cutting, it leaves us with 2 boards. One we attach to the wall and the other we attach to the shelf. The shelf will slide down over top and sit their perfectly tight. Find the studs. We used 3″ screws to secure the board to the wall.

Apply a bead of glue before using 2″ screws to secure the second board onto the back of the shelf.

Slide the box over, the 45’s will align and presto it is hung.

A little paint and luck makes all the difference! We allowed all the paint 24 hours to cure.

Complete! This is before we added all of our junk.

This is how it looks today. We’ve added a few things, including a place for Spock to lie while we work. Before we did, he thought he could use our keyboards as his bed. We have worked in here together and accomplish so much!

Instructions and Supplies: 

Measuring Tape 




Wood Glue 

Circular Saw

Paint (We used Eggshell, Gray and Turquoise)  

2 10 inch by 1 inch by 10 feet boards 

2-3 cabinets 30 inches high (upper cabinets work perfectly for this!) 

1-2 pieces of wood-whatever length and width you want your desk to be

Pre-step: Building a desk like this is wonderful because you can customize it to your space. You will need to determine how large or small of a desk you need/want. We wanted one that we both could work at the same time without being in each other’s way.  

Step 1: Cut your boards for the top part of your desk if needed. We measure and used a long, metal ruler to guide our saw across the doors.

Step 2: Drill a hole in the side you want to be the back towards the middle. This will be where you put all our cords. This allows the desk to be flush against the wall and keeps your cords organized. We used our drill and a 1 1/4 inch hole drill. For each door, we started on one side, then flipped over and finished coming up through the other side. 

Step 3: Paint! Paint the cabinets and doors whatever color you want. We wanted neutral cabinets and a darker top. As Kris painted the doors, he discovered he could create a wood-toned appearance if he applied the paint lightly. You can paint it a solid color.  If you are using actual wood, you could even stain it. 

Step 4: While the paint is drying, build your shelves. Take the 2 10 foot boards and cut them into 3 1/3 feet pieces. This will leave you will 3 one foot pieces. Again, use a straightedge to guide your saw, going slowly. 

Step 5: Build your shelves! This is a two-person job. Apply a thin line of wood glue on two of the 1 foot boards. Press each one onto the edge of the 3 1/2 board, lining up your edges and corners. Apply another strip of wood glue on the top 1-inch board edge and place the second 3 1/2 board on top. Kris used a nailer to tack each board into place. Take the final 1 foot board and put wood glue on two ends. Slid the board wherever you want your shelf to be divided. You can also leave the shelf open if you wish. Tack the board into place. 

Kris also used three inch screws to secure it all together. Make sure you align the screws and do not go at an angle. 

Step 6: Paint your shelves. *We painted them after assembly on purpose. If you were to paint and then assemble, the painting would be easier, but you risk cracking the paint as you assemble. 

Step 7: Build the French Cleat. Take a 8 inch wide board and cut it in half at a 45-degree angle. Paint the same color as your shelf.

Step 8: Apply polyurethane to the doors. After the first coat has set for 3-4 hours, sand using 220 grit sandpaper, getting rid of any imperfections or bubbles. Apply the second coat and allow to sit for 24 hours. 

Step 9: Let everything sit for 24 hours to cure. 

Step 10: Hang your French Cleat. Find the studs. Take your “bottom” board and secure it to the wall, using 3 inch nails. Make sure the 45-degree angle is facing up. 

Next, take the “top” cleat and screw it onto the back/top part of the shelf. Make sure the 45-degree angle is facing down. 

Hang the shelf by placing the shelf cleat over the wall cleat. 

Step 11: Assemble your desk. Place the cabinets towards the center of your boards to prevent tipping. We measured 9 inches from the wall and placed our three cabinets there. The doors fit snuggled against the wall.

Step 12: Decorate and enjoy your new room. 

Dede’s Writing Journey

Last year, I decided that I would sit down and write my first book. I had an idea for one rolling around in my head for years, started it several times and gave up. This time differed from all the other times for a variety of reasons. The main reason, I had my husband’s unwavering support and encouragement. Before I embarked this time, I read all the books on writing that I had bought over the years, including Steven King’s On Writing. (If you haven’t read that yet, please do. It is full of great advice.)

The biggest take away: write every day. I needed to write whether I felt like it, whether I was inspired or had the energy or wanted too.

So I set a goal for myself. I would write 1500 words a day. (I would do more on the weekends when I was not working. Rarely happened though.) 

I also told myself to “pants it”; never peek back at what I wrote. Just write. Editing would come later. But, there would be no major issues, right? (Cue canned crowd laughter)

For a little over three weeks, I stuck to it. Every day, I would come home from work and I would take care of the dogs, cook dinner, etc. After dinner, I would sit down at the table and write my words. 

Spock, our cat, was my “helper” during this process. Most of the time, he just judged.

I struggled at first, checking every two hundred words to see if I had hit my goal. After the first week, I needed to check less and less. Then I was writing those words without blinking. 

I got sick after week 3: I couldn’t write. My poor dogs didn’t get their daily walks. My husband hid from me to avoid catching what I had. The Bjorson household was miserable.

But then I picked the writing up again and after two long months, I completed my first draft! Doing as I had read, I put the manuscript away for a few weeks.

My husband bought a printer, and we printed off two copies. He started reading my precious book. 

And he did not have much to say. So I asked him to say something. 

He said it was hard to read because it was so full of errors. 

And he was right. 

My story could be interesting. But because I took everyone’s advice and never looked back to look at what I wrote, I had some major errors in my writing. 

So I started the monumental task of editing. I bought a couple books, read a couple blog posts, watched YouTube videos on what is the best way to do this. I settled at the desk again and read my story. I attacked it the way I attack my students’ essays. And you know what happened?

I got overwhelmed. 

Because there was so much to fix, so many plot holes and so much that was just wrong. The story I had loved and poured hours into was suddenly something I hated. 

It didn’t help that I was planning a wedding. We also moved, selling our home and buying a new one. All within two months of each other. (If you want to test your relationship, do this. If you survive, it means you are meant to be together.) 

Once we settled into our new home and married life, I now had a cluttered, bright office to call my own. I pulled out the manuscript and tried tackling it again. This was just under six months ago. 

I’m still working on it. Because it is hard. A lot harder than anyone ever made it sound. 

November rolled around, and I took part in my first writing challenge for NaMoWriMo. And I did decently well. I did not hit the 50,000 word limit but did get to 30,000. With this new story, I tried a different tactic. I completed a plan/outline of how I wanted the story to go. Which helped me get started and stay organized. Halfway through, I back-tracked to the beginning. I started editing, and I started filling in holes. I recognized events I had set up I needed to reveal, or discovered major plot points I needed to fix. 

Day 1 of the new story. The first day is always the easiest!

What’s my point? 

Figuring out my writing style took a full year. I thought I had to do what other authors did. I read so many books saying that editing as you wrote was detrimental to your writing, it would cause you to never finish. This process would send me into a vortex of editing and not writing, never adding any words! 

For me, it worked exactly opposite. I realized plot holes sooner. If I got stuck, I could edit a little. This always led me to being inspired to continue writing. 

This book is on track to be done by the end of February. (Fingers Crossed!) Which means I can send it off to the editor!  

I’m still working on the other one. I will finish. But for all my future novels, I will stick with the editing as I go. This may not be what the books say to do, but it works for me. And it may not work for you. 

Don’t be discouraged if you have been struggling. Try something new. Try writing at a different time of day; go back and look at what you have been writing. Talk to someone about your book. Skip to a different part of your novel.

Do whatever you need to do to get it done!

They make rules to be broken.