A Tale of Two Houses, Part 1

2017 has been a long and busy year. A lot has happened, but not much writing. Probably the biggest event was my daughter’s graduation from college, and subsequent moving out on her own. She has a job she loves in higher education administration, and though we miss having her around (she lives about an hour’s drive away), we couldn’t be happier for her.

I got out of the habit of blogging, and one thing that kept me from getting back to it was feeling like I had to write a long, comprehensive post, and make it good. I realized that yesterday, and it’s kind of silly. Just like housework done incorrectly or incompletely is still better than not done at all, a short blog is better than none. So here goes…

A New House

Our house will be similar to this, only with an attached garage

Some of you might remember that my husband and I are planning a move from Ohio to Tennessee, with building a new house. You might have guessed that I’ve been away because of that. But (sigh), that’s not the case. I’m still in Ohio, and still haven’t started building. And that’s OK.

So to catch up on that, we got a few quotes from builders last spring, around the time I last posted here. Three builders gave us ballpark estimates that were pretty close to our budget, so all looked so far so good. Then they got back to us with detailed estimates. All were 50 -60% higher! We figured out that 1) the economy is good, so there’s plenty of work and 2) many of them are doing insurance rebuilds in Gatlinburg, so they’re extra busy. However, they’re happy to take on another project for the right money. That kind of money is not in our budget. So back to the drawing board there.

We considered downsizing the house by making the garage in the lower level–not really what we wanted. We considered being our own general contractors–we’ve done so on some pretty large remodeling projects, and my parents built two new houses years ago being their own contractors. But they built locally–we’re 300 miles away, so being our own GC would mean having to stay down there during construction. Also not what we wanted.

Our new rental house – isn’t it cute?

An Old House

The new house kind of got put on the back burner when we had an opportunity to buy another house–a rental, here in Ohio. It needed a lot of work, but that was all cosmetic, and the deal was too good to pass up, so we snagged it. (As a side note, we’ve owned rental property for many years, so this is not new to us.) That turned out to be an interesting ride…


I fell off the wagon keeping track, but I continue to read every day. I’ve been trying to read more nonfiction, too. Most of it is either personal finance or business-related, or is about home building. I finished a novel and a non-fiction book on New Year’s Eve.

For fiction, I read Pure Sacrifice by Jami Gold. I enjoyed her free short story in this paranormal romance series, so I bought book 1 earlier this year. I liked it, and a couple weeks ago I needed something to read and nothing on my Kindle jumped out at me, so I bought book 2. This series (the Mythos Legacy) has all the ingredients to a satisfying paranormal romance, but isn’t the same ol’ same ol’. In book 1, it was the heroine who was the paranormal character (usually, it’s the guy). In this book, it was the guy, but he was a shapeshifting unicorn–pretty different! The worldbuilding was nicely in-depth but not intrusive or info-dumpy, and the characters were engaging. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series.

In non-fiction, I read The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. For those not in the know, they are the hosts of HGTV’s Fixer+Upper, which is probably the most popular reality home show right now. I love their show, and really enjoyed reading about how they got their start in their various businesses to how they wound up with a their own TV show. This book pulled me in right away and kept me interested throughout, and I was sorry to see it end. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys Fixer+Upper!


While I did make progress on my next Saturn Society time travel novel, writing just wasn’t on my brain for most of the year. I did not complete any projects, and did not have any new releases. I want that to change this year. I figured out what happens next in the novel, and I’m excited to get back to it. Hence, I’m participating in ROW80 to keep accountable.


ROW80, or A Round of Words in 80 Days, is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” We can set whatever goals we want for the challenge. Mine will be a stretch for the first quarter, which will end in late March: I want to finish the novel. It probably needs 20,000 more words. When I take the time and know where I’m going, I can write 1000 words in about an hour or so. The catch here is that I don’t completely know where I’m going with this book, so that’s going to be a stretch. I used to outline, but that grew to be less helpful as I progressed as a writer, as I believe one should always feel free to deviate from the outline when a better idea comes along for a story–and for me, it always does. Also, I need to get a newsletter out this quarter, as it’s been way too long since I’ve done that, too.

This week’s goal: I haven’t written since early November, so I’m going to do a full cycle-back and read the book from the beginning. It’s around 100,000 words at the moment (yes, I write long books). If I do that, hopefully other good ideas to wrap it up will come in the process.

This post is already getting long (so much for keeping it short) and I have a lot to do today, so I’ll continue with the house sagas next week, and post an update on my goals.

How was 2017 for you? It was mostly good for me! If you watch TV, do you like Fixer + Upper? (One thing I found interesting is Chip and Jo have not had a TV since they got married–no wonder they have time to do so much!). If you’re a writer, what kind of goals do you have for this year? How are you doing so far, one week in? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

12 Responses to \

  1. Hi, Jennette! Glad to have you back in the ROW80.

    For a year’s full of news, there’s a lot of just-hinted-at here. Probably a good thing… You need to be able to relax and start working on that re-reading and writing prep (let alone all the house conversion!) you’ve got planned.

  2. Wow, what a super busy year you’ve had. Lots of exciting things. Congratulations to your daughter. Bummer those builders raised their bids. Crazy! I hope all your plans with the move fall into place at just the right time. I’m looking forward to your next Saturn Society book. I like fixer upper reality shows, but I haven’t watched many lately. I’m glad you blogged about all your plans and activities. Good luck with ROW80. You go, Jennette!

  3. Glad to see you back with us on ROW80. I’ve wondered how the house building has been going and I guess that now I know.

    I love Chip and Joanne and watch Fixer Upper whenever I can – probably the only show I watch live. My hubby tapes a bunch of shows and then we can watch them a few days (or weeks!) later and skip the commercials.

    My 2017 was not a good year. I’m so excited for the new year and am looking forward to it being much better. Things are going well so far.

    Look forward to hearing more from you. Have a great week.

  4. Eden, there’s definitely more to the house story! I’ll share next week. Thanks!

    Lynn, thanks so much! You’re right, I’m trusting that the new house will come together at the right time.

    Chris, I hope 2018 is much better for you. Good luck to you this week, and thanks!

  5. I’m sure once you get back into the plot ideas will flow as to where it’s heading. Good luck with your ROW80 objectives and everything else.

  6. Hey Jennette! Happy to read your update. Your proposed house looks so pretty. I love Fixer upper too, one of my favorite stories from the book was when chip kept forgetting he was babysitting the baby. I also marvel at their no tv life! This week im making plans for my goals. Last year i did almost everything without a plan and feel i didn’t get all that much done. Look forward to reading your updates!

  7. Wow, exciting new about the house – not the overpriced situation, but the planning and moving forward part. I hope it all works out. Gatlinburg is gorgeous country! One might even call it God’s country. I love the house you’re hoping to build.

    And, I love the cute little rental house.

    Congratulations to your daughter. I hope her career takes off and she continues to make you proud.

    I also have been away from both reading and writing. Medical stuff has a way of creeping up out of nowhere to kill your energy and dampen your spirits. But, this too shall pass (eventually) and I’ll be back on track. I’m so glad to see your blog post. I’ve missed seeing you around.

    Here’s to a great 2018!

    Patricia Rickode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  8. Thanks, Wendy and Ruichan!

    Coleen, I couldn’t believe that he forgot the baby – twice! Thanks, and good luck with your goals!

    Patricia, the Smokies are definitely God’s country – our land has a great view of them. I know all about low energy – sorry that’s happening to you, especially with running an inn. I’ll be blogging about that soon. Thanks for all your good wishes, and the same to you!

  9. I love the look of the rental and the new one yet to be built. It is great to have dreams and goals and the book reviews! I too am a fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines.. they bounce off each other and are incredible hard working folks. Neat to read all the comments above, and see how you are still committed to writing. Hugs, girl.

  10. Pingback: A Tale of Two Houses, Part 2 | Jennette Marie Powell

  11. Ha! I takes me a while, but I finally made it! Wow, love that house that will be similar to the one you want to build and the rental property you bought. It’s really cute. I am hearing ya on the contracting Jennette. I’m in the biz and construction has taken off again. And quite frankly, I for one am glad. It was practically at death’s door due to the recession. Yeah, I don’t know what to tell you. You may want to get another round of bids. That said, even if you hire a contractor you’ll want to keep a strict eye on the project. Not all in the industry are trustworthy. You can contract out some of the work and finish it yourself. That would save you a pretty penny. Just have someone take it to drywall. That’s usually the halfway point. And you and hubby have had a lot of experience with remodeling so it wouldn’t be beyond your scope of expertise. Just a thought. Anyway, got to jump over to Part 2. Perhaps you’ve got this whole thing figured out. 🙂