Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Report - Goal Update and What I'm Reading Now

It's about half-way through the year, which still really doesn't seem possible. There are 3 days left in June. Sunday, not even a full week away, R leaves for Orlando for the month. When they get back it'll be time for College Orientation. That also doesn't seem possible, mostly though because I don't feel old enough to actually have a college student.

At the beginning of 2017 I set a series of Goals, things I wanted to accomplish this year. One of them was to read 26 books. 20 whatever, 3 Non-Fiction, 3 Classics. At the half-way point it stands to reason that I should have read approximately 13 books. I haven't. I've read 5.

I finished:

I have enjoyed every book I've read so far this year.

I'm in the process of reading:

I'm about two-thirds of the way finished with this. I'm learning a ton. It points out the good things about writing by the seat of your pants and how to take your stories to the next level.

 I've just started this, but I'm enjoying it.

I have several books I want to read this year, plus I keep adding more. There are three or four self-improvement books I want to read this year in addition to my ever-growing to-be-read pile.

 I completely disconnected my cable, so that will give me time to read. Hopefully, I'll be finished with the books I'm reading now by the end of July and I can start on something else. I have books by Rick Reed, Charlie Cochet, and Rhys Ford to read.

I'm curious to know what everyone is reading, as there really aren't enough books to read.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From the Writer's Desk -- Trying Something New

It's mid-June, Summer Solstice is today. Twenty days ago my only child graduated from high school. In ten days I send them to Orlando for a month long visit with their Godparents. I have never had more than a week without R, so this will be an experience. One I know I am ready for.  It's hard to believe the year is half-way done.

I think everyone has a limit they reach and say that's it - I can't do this any more - whatever their 'this' might be. I hit that point about three months ago. And hung on longer without really knowing how. I had heard of a book, mostly in passing, without any real conversation on what it was, that piqued my interest. Enough that I went and looked at it time and again. Then I bought it. Started reading it the next day or a couple of days later. Now, I've finished the book and started it again.

What I needed was to change my way of thinking. I was going to ask my counselor for anti-depressants, as my stress, anxiety, and depression sky-rocketed. I decided to try this first.

The book -- The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I was about a third of the way through the book when I decided to try it out, mostly because I woke up to use the bathroom about an hour before my alarm clock should ring and decided to give a try.  Eleven days later, I haven't missed a day and it has been an exciting, eye-opening, sometimes painful few days. I love it. One of the things I realized is that I would rather give my most productive energy to my writing not to my day job. So, I decided I needed to write for an hour every morning, which means I need to be up earlier. That's what I've done. The only day I didn't write since I started was Sunday and on that day I was working on spreadsheets and websites and other writing related things before we had to leave for my step-sister's.

I'm getting used to waking up at 4 am, which a good friend of mind keeps telling me that no, I've got it all wrong 4 am is bed time.

So, I'm writing for an hour or there-abouts every day and am finding it easier to write, to figure out what is going to happen next. I have other ideas for more stories too.  I also happened across this book, which will be one my next investments...

The Miracle Morning for Writers.  It looks interesting. I enjoy the quiet part of the morning, it was also my favorite part of the night. But R is a night owl, so there is less quiet. And really, I wouldn't change that. I couldn't be prouder of my kid and the young adult they are becoming.

My goal is to finish BTM by the end of the summer, preferably by the end of July. I'm about half-way there, so that is doable. After that I have several books I want to write, but I have yet to decide on what will be next.

Weekly Goals - To write everyday and finish updating my website.

Wishing everyone a Blessed Summer.


Monday, January 23, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Where did January Go?

The month is almost gone.  I swear that adage that time goes faster as you get older is true. Sort of. Honestly, I think that time flies, because we live for the weekend.  As in "I can't wait until the weekend so I can..." - go fishing, watch a movie, see my friends, stitch, sew, write, read, bake.  It's the weekend where we live. Many of us. But I don't want to live just on the weekend.  I want every day to be like that. For me, that comes with writing. I would rather be writing.  If I write for a living, which is my goal, then my non-writing hours are filled with other things I enjoy. None of it includes working in cube-farm. My best friend, she loves her day job, which is very linear and in a cube-farm.

I've spent most of January so far trying to find that balance between writing, the day job, and what I need to decompress. Some days, it's just finding time to write. Using the Bullet Journal has been a big help.

Everyone writes different, they have different rituals, different comforts, different environmental needs, different habits. And those change over time.

Sometimes what I need in the way of environment changes - one day it may be my desk, another at Barnes and Noble or a coffee shop. I always need something to drink, but sometimes eating doesn't happen at all, or I'll need chocolate or crunchy, or everything in sight. But, I've found while I like writing with people around - like during write-ins, or finding a corner during a conference to write with whoever sits down, I like my space. I don't like to be too crowded. And I write best in fifteen minute increments. So, even if I'm do a 1k in 1hr challenge, I still break it up into 15-minute increments. My friend Brynn Paulin shared this story about a prolific writer named Anthony Trollope who wrote in 15-minute increments for 3 hours before going to a day job. I find I can waste a lot of time if I have an hour to write. But, 15 minutes - I'm less likely to procrastinate. So, I may write for an hour, but I've done in 15-minute spurts.

With my Bullet Journal, I created a couple of different spreads - one is my Sprint Log

I use my Sprint Log to track the date I work on a specific project, the starting and ending word count of each round, and the difference. My goal is 250 words each round. I use the timer feature on my laptop to keep track. I like it, because it interrupts the music - either from iTunes or YouTube - I'm listening to.

Set up - top of Spread

 Both pages. I write the abbreviation for each title at the bottom.

 The other spread I have is a word count tracker. Coloring in the boxes feels like an accomplishment - that I'm one step closer to my Goal. Each of my active WIPS has a layout. Each square is 1,000 words, and each of the smaller squares inside it are 250 words.

Goals -

So, my goals the last time I posted them were 500 words per session, writing 5 times a week. Or 2,500 words in a week.  Carrying that from the week of the 9th over to the week of the 16th, that would be 5,000 words total. Now, I didn't write 5 times a week. I wrote 5 times total, BUT I did manage to write 7,018 words since the 9th.

My other goal was 2 hours of research and world building. Carrying that over from the 9th to the 16th, that would 4 hours. I totally didn't make that one. At all.

Goals this week are the same.
1. Write 500 words per session, 5 days a week.
2. 2 hours of Research/world building - Forbidden

It's always when I need to be doing something else that I feel the drive to write. I need to sit down and write even when I don't have the drive.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Random Hobbies --- Cross Stitching...

I have several hobbies -- cross stitching, quilting, sewing, crocheting, genealogy, baking...there are more, I'm sure, I'm just not remembering at the moment.  Cross Stitching is the one I'm spending the most time on right now.  I'm participating in a challenge geared towards finishing WIPs.

The top picture is one I finished in December - it is the "2011 Violet-Crowned Hummingbird" from the Crossed Wing Collection. It is stitched on a hand-dyed 28ct Linen called Storm by Crossed Wing Collection.

 This is the model for "The Storyteller" by Teresa Wentzler 

I'm stitching it on 28 Count Cashel Linen in Jamaica Sunset by Silkweaver Fabrics

I was given my first Heaven and Earth Designs chart for the Holidays along with the flosses I needed for it.  This is "So Many Books So Little Time" artwork by Randal Spangler, charted by Heaven and Earth Designs.

This is being stitched on 25 count Lugana in Antique White

I started this when I still lived in Okinawa, where R was born.  This Flower Faerie by Barbara Baatz.  

  I'm stitching it on a 28 Count Linen - I don't remember the color.  It was whatever they had in a tube on base.

I take about an hour or so after dinner and stitch before I start writing -- at least that is the plan.  Everyone needs something that helps them relieve stress, this is one of mine.  What is really cool is that technology has been new designers, as well as hand-dyed fabrics and flosses, easily accessible.

Have a fantastic weekend!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Report - Booktube and Reading Challenge

Okay, so in the process of watching Flosstube some time ago (Cross Stitch videos on YouTube), I came across the knitting, crochet, sewing, and quilting equivalents. Then I found BookTube.  Most of the ones I've seen so far focus on young adult books.  There are some that are Sci-Fi and Fantasy though.  And some of the BookTubers have library tours...My To Be Read pile grew. Exponentially. And there may or may not be library envy.😊

My goal is read for 30 minutes a day. Not a lot, but I'm okay with it for now, since I also have a full time job in addition to writing, and have a kid still at home, which means I actually have to cook and have an assortment of associated chores to do.  And, at the moment, cross stitching is a stress reliever for me. But, I read most of the night I spent waiting at Urgent Care as well as reading about 30 minutes a day. I'm half-way through the Hobbit.

I was putting together a playlist for Behind the Masque, because no matter how much fiddling I do, I can't get my iTunes Desktop music library to lync to either iPad or my Laptop (which is frustrating), when YouTube recommended a video to watch that caught my eye. The BookTuber - Winx & Ink, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy reader - released a video here announcing that January was Sherlock Holmes Reading month. It was apparently decided a few months ago. I saw it yesterday morning. So, I have added several more books to my TBR list -- including several that are inspired by Sherlock Holmes. And decided that as soon as I finish The Hobbit, I will start "A Study in Scarlet" in the Barnes and Noble Classics edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I haven't read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, so I'm looking forward to it.  However, I don't know if I'll get through the whole book.  So, I'm okay with the one story. (I have a 3 book collection of James Bond stories, and made it through the first story - Casino Royale only so far). 

I should probably add both collections to my list to finish this year.  It's January, with the whole year ahead, it's hard to see what I'll accomplish and what I won't.

Monday, January 9, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Getting Back on Track

 First week of January and I'm already behind on every part of my goals for the year. On the way home from the day job on December 30th, I fell and torqued my knee. It was bad enough that I was afraid I re-tore my ACL.  It was repaired less than a year ago. New Year's Weekend was also spent with my family.  We crashed at my brother's for the weekend, which is not really conducive to writing. Way too many people and to much noise.  Holidays are important, it's a good time remember what's important in our lives.

So, after spending most of Tuesday evening in Urgent Care followed by strict orders to go home and not move any more than absolutely necessary because the doc was worried about a blood clot. I sat and stitched in bed for an hour before falling asleep.  Earlier I had made the decision to change focus projects, because there is a serious amount of world building that I need to do for Forbidden.  It's no longer NaNo, so I can -- and need to -- take the time necessary - and the word count - to do the world building.  So, I'm working on Behind the Masque again. But, I didn't want to jump in from where I left off, mostly because I don't remember where I was headed. So, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday were spent getting back up to speed and some editing at the same time. So, I'm back to a good starting point. The pain is gone and no blood clot. So, those are good things.

So, this week's goals are a lot like last weeks goals

1) Writing 5 times a week, 500 words each
2) 2 hours of world building and research
Focus - Behind the Masque (writing) and Forbidden (world building)

Have a Fabulous Week!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Report - Book Haul and Reading Goals

My teenager bought me "Wicked" by Gregory Maguire and The Land of Stories #2 by Chris Colfer along with a new journal and a two new book marks for the holidays this year.  Our family drew names for a gift exchange and one of my nephews gave me a Gift Certificate from Barnes and Noble.  I can't wait to spend it!!

My Reading Goal this year is to read 26 books.  That's a little over two books a month.  I would love to get to one a week, but I usually stitch between the day job and writing, so there is less time to stitch.  I haven't tried Audible yet, although I've borrowed audio-books on CD from the Library.  The problem I have, and one of the reasons I haven't tried Audible yet, is because of my hearing. I'm hard of hearing, and there have been a lot of times I start to listen to a book, only to have to return it without listening to it because I couldn't hear it, even with the volume turned all the way up.  I don't want to pay for an audio-book I can't hear it.  That would be completely frustrating.

So, here is my  breakdown of the books I want to read:

3 Classics
3 Non-Fiction
20 Whatever - mostly fiction.
   I want to read at least one in each of the following genres - Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, and Mystery.

I have several classics on my shelf that I haven't read including Kidnapped and The Black Arrow. I also want to read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  (My high school AP English class read things like Jonathon Livingston Seagull, which was 80 pages, pictures on 40 with large print, so I missed a lot of the required reading books in school - and some I don't remember reading if I did.)

I'm reading The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien now, which has a good pace to it so far.

There is a book from a book club I'm in that I'm thinking about reading because I want to see if it matches my expectations.  It's romance - or at least it's supposed to be.

For Non-Fiction, I have several on my shelves to choose from, but I'm pretty sure one of them will be Prague Winter  by Madeleine Albright

I picked this one up when I was looking for cozy mystery series, but I'd read one that I thought was going to be interesting and it turned about to be too unbelievable, so I stopped reading them all together, I want to give this one a try. Different series. Different Author - it's Death By Darjeeling by Laura Child. 

I found this on one of center aisle racks at Barnes and Noble, and looks like it's going to be Urban Fantasy.  Hounded by Kevin Hearne.

 This is one of those -- that sounds interesting books -- then I found out it was a movie, and it was shelved.  But, it's one of those I want to read it and see how they handle Zombies.  World War Z by Max Brooks.

 Those are the books I want to read this year.  Some I chose because I'm excited to read them, others because I put them down before I could get into them before.  My Reading Bullet Journal has most of the books I want to read written in there - either by year, challenge, or author.  So, far there are books listed on 52 pages.  Some are full, others aren't.  It's still a lot of books.

I have a simple tracker in the Goals section of my Bullet Journal Planner and a section on my weekly page for what I'm reading.

Book Tracker in Goals Section

Weekly Layout 

Happy Reading,