Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Forays in Fiction: JuNoWriMo Begins

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Are you ready for JuNoWriMo?

It starts at midnight.  Similar rules as for NaNoWriMo.  50K words in 30 days.  Except it doesn't have to be a novel. It can be a collection of short stories or creative essays.  It can be a memoir.  And it can be the latest 50K in a WIP.

As a nine year veteran of NaNo I've developed a few tricks for getting the word count which I'm going to share here as much as a reminder to myself as anything:


  • no editing
  • no backspacing
  • no stopping to look up words 
  • if not sure of the [correct, relevant, best, right] word put list of [possible, potential, maybe,] words inside brackets
  • or forget never mind scratch the brackets and save them for the edits next month
  • use tiny font.  too tiny to read from comfortable typing position.  for me that's size 8 or smaller
  • blow off capitalization.  it wears out the pinkie fingers too fast
  • blow off quote marks.  it wears out the pinkie finger but it also takes extra time.  tho sometimes i use a double apostrophe instead ''that should do it'' she said.  yeah takes some time but not the shift key.  are you picking up i have issues with the shift key?
  • use the full name of the character every time--Wilhelm Henri Fendorf the Third= five words instead of one. i saw this on someone else's WriMo tip sheet and seldom actually use it as I forget what the character is saying or doing while I'm busy typing out the name but a few times I've used search and replace when wordcount came up short for the day
  • use a font color that is the same or just a shade darker than the background color.  the trick is to keep it unreadable while you type so you aren't tempted to correct redo rethink fix.  
  • if you loose track of what you just said and aren't sure you completed the thot then say it again.
  • wax wordy in descriptions adding including every one of the senses--sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste 
  • describe the scene again from each character's viewpoint
  • focus on one element--dialog or description or stream of consciousness, action--at a time.  when characters are talking just let them talk back and forth without stage directions.
  • info dumps are good very good for shitty rough drafts.  pile the words on for each character's backstory, talk about the scientific or historical aspects of anything
  • when a thot related to a different scene or a different character occurs hit enter several times and start writing it then when done return to via the up arrow.... or not.  can just hit enter a couple of times again and start 
  • take your character to confession--a priest, therapist, friend--let them talk about themselves and whoever else and relate their history, confess their sins, admit their desires, meander down memory lane, plan their future
  • the characters can have bizarre surrealistic dreams that reveal things you didn't know you knew about the story, their motives, their fears, their desires
  • give one of your own recent dreams to a character.  often the dreams one has during an intense writing time like a WriMo are quite relevant to the story in play
  • introduce a brand new character out of the blue--more description, more monologue, more backstory, another point of view to incorporate
  • have a character tell a story to another character or their pet or their stuffed animal or the photo of their ancestor or loved one or or or.... such stories can be revealing



What I end up with at the end of the month isn't really even the first draft of a novel it is more a pre-draft.  It is talking about the novel, talking about the story, talking about the characters, talking about the setting, talking about the plot, talking about the theme, talking about the motivations, and letting the characters talk and talk and talk until they find their individual voices.

Yeah.  All of this leads to one whopping mess by the end.  The drawback of course is that nearly every WriMo novel I've begun has set in its file untouched since the last day of its month.  But there are always things that get written this way that would never have found a way out in the more sedate, perfectionist, way I tend toward whenever I'm not doing a WriMo.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Twice Grand

Ashley and Mason James
Ed and I became Grand Uncle and Aunt twice over this week. It happened inside of twenty hours between 8:30 am Wednesday when Mason James was born to our niece Ashley in Montana and 3:12 am today in Washington when Clara Belle was born to Ashley's brother Kirby.

Welcome to the world sweet babes.  Welcome to our hearts.

Kirby and Clara Belle

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Eyes Have It

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Went to the eye doctor today.  Not for new prescription glasses or any other potential benefit for my eyes but to get evidence of the severity of the retinitas pigmentosa as the next hoop to jump to qualify for state benefits so that I can have medicare so that I can have my prescriptions for blood pressure and mood disorder now numbering six and maybe stay alive and maybe sane.

And because they didn't schedule the field vision test for this appointment I have to go back again in two weeks for that to get the proof of what the eye doctor today estimated based on his visual observation of my retinas that I now have less than 5 degrees of vision. That's 5 out of the possible 180.

The state defines legal blindness as less than 20 degrees.  I was already at 12 to 15 the first time I went on disability in 1989 and the RP is by definition a degenerative disease and still no cure in sight.  So it would have taken a miracle of Gospel proportions to have changed that yet because I had the  good fortune to be able to go off the disability for over ten years I have to apply again as if I never did.

Do I sound bitter much?  Sorry but something about dealing with the system makes one feel less than.

The system looks at you with soulless eyes as if through a microscope at bacterium on a slide.  So one comes to feel a bit like a bacterium--a parasite needing to be exterminated.

Every time I go in to see my counselor I'm given a form to fill out to measure my subjective sense of my mood that day and one of the questions is: How often in the last two weeks have you felt you were a burden to family and friends?  never, sometimes, half the time, nearly every day, every day.  I always answer one of the last two even when for all the other questions I can answer one of the first two.

And I always silently add 'society' or 'community' to the list after 'family and friends'.

It doesn't help that as a political news junkie I'm tuned into the current debate in America over healthcare reform and that the overall mood of that debate paints taxpayer funded healthcare and other 'entitlements' as burdens on the hardworking Americans and is creating a sense that anyone needing help from the system is a 'user' or a 'taker' and that if the so called American Dream isn't working for you it can only be because you're too lazy to work for it and that the kindest thing we can do for people who can't or won't 'pay their own way' is eliminate all the 'entitlements' in order to force them to 'pull their own weight'.  But if you can't or won't 'pull your own weight' than have the decency to keep your weight off the backs of your fellow American Dreamers as you sink into the mud beneath their gold booted feet.

So.  OK.  The fact that question is on that 'mood-o-meter' questionnaire is testament to the fact that 'feeling like a burden' is a symptom of the illness and thus not necessarily a rational or objective view.

But it isn't necessarily irrational to interpret the mood of the nation that way and thus see yourself through the eyes of the Paul Ryans and Rand Pauls and the Tea Party protesters and the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters and Michelle Malkins... all those voices that are all but chanting for people like me to just lay down and die already.  Just get out of the way so the 'real' Americans can have the freedom to grab their bootstraps and bound up the ladder of success as weightless as frogs in space.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

91st ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 2 2013

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
My goals are all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.

These check-in posts will contain any commentary I have about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in and any relevant links.

Below the commentary is my current reading list for the READ CRAFT goal.


Last round I finished the edit for Blow Me A Candy Kiss, the short story I'm planning to use as the experiment in self publishing.  This was on my original Goals when I first joined ROW80 last April.  It is now ready for beta readers.   Anyone interested can say so in a comment or email me at the email in the sidebar.  A link to an earlier draft can be found in the ROW80 Goals page linked under the spreadsheet below.

In spite of the lifequake I've hung on to nearly all my Ys except for FICTION FILES more often than not tho FREEWRITE has taken a hit since I returned to Mom's on the 11th.  The fact that I did FREEWRITE the whole time I was in Phoenix but lost the habit again when I got back indicates to me that it is the emails and chats with Ed that are taking the place of FREEWRITE.  If I gave myself FREEWRITE credit for those emails I'd definitely have those Ys and I probably should since they are very similar to journaling the only difference being that I edit the emails before I send and to some extent self-edit while writing a little more than when I know I'm the only audience.



Note the one loan Y in FICTION FILES.  First in a long time.  I earned it twice in one day.  Once by playing with the mindmap of the storyworld after updating my Xmind ap and the second by referring to my files to choose a story for JuNoWriMo when I signed up Friday.  I liked the feeling.  I want more.

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier.  Since so much has changed in the last month I wiped most of the old stuff from the Lifequake and Self-Management sections for the 89th check-in and then added some new pics to the workstation section.

The Lifequake
Self Management--for 91st check-in only new material is in this section
Evolution of the workstations
Fiction Files
Read Craft



THE LIFEQUAKE:

Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
The event I'm calling the lifequake hit me in late January and for the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from it.  The details are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity and most recently in It's Like This, so I won't keep reiterating the story in these check-ins.

The most important fact affecting ROW80 goals is that my 5 week visit at my Mom's begun in early January has been extended indefinitely.  It has been a huge disruption in itself not counting all the disruptions of life, thought and emotion behind the whys and wherefores.



The latest in the series of aftershocks disrupted things so much I had to drop out of ROW80 check-ins for a month.  I left Mom's in Longview WA April 29 to spend the next 11 days in Phoenix OR with my husband packing up the rest of our stuff and helping him prepare for vacating the house on the 15th.  My sister returned here with a third van load of my stuff on May 2nd and then picked me and a forth van load up on the 10th.  I spent the next two days shuffling boxes and bags and stuff around between van and house and my areas at Mom's.  The four days after that I wallowed in the pain of missing Ed, loosing our house and not knowing when the next visit will be now that there are no more loads to go after and no house to call ours.

Merlin
This trip our cat Merlin returned with me and has been part of the comfort.  He is still being kept in the laundry room until we are sure he has no parasites before he is allowed to share a litterbox with Bradley.  So I've created the ritual of going down to spend time with him after Ed and I end our daily online chat.  When it isn't raining I take him outside to explore the yard on his leash.

He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick this winter.  During our last trip in early April my sister took him to the vet and the following week he had surgery to remove rotten teeth and fix his eyelids so his lashes would stop scratching his eyes.  He looks oriental now.  The pic is from several years ago when he was still healthy.


One of my main focuses in the first week home was unpacking and organizing my clothes.  The hanging clothes in the room where my primary workstation is and the folding clothes in the room across the hall which I share with Mom.

When I first arrived in January I had about ten hangers hanging in this closet and now there are two winter coats in there belonging to Mom and everything else is mine.  My coats, sweaters, jackets and vests are hanging on hooks on the door to the room.

Since 89th check-in I've continued to unpack and tweak every area.  One of my projects is to unpack every one of the hastily packed boxes and do the sorting, organizing, cleaning, repair etc that there was no time for before stuffing things in boxes.  Then I'll repack the household stuff and keep those boxes together in anticipation of the first load gong back as soon as Ed is able to move into another place.

SELF-MANAGEMENT


Reading and crafting corner
The creating of stations to accommodate activities has been one of the themes of my organizing.  It was after the books and bookshelves came back last month that I moved my writing workstation entirely out of Mom's room and turned my corner in there into my reading and crafting spot.  Not much of either is happening in there yet though.  There is just too much unpacking and organizing still to do and the time that might be used for reading and crafts is given to those tasks.

The pic to the left is new for 90th check-in, reflecting the latest tweaks.  One of which was switching out the office chair that was there for the exercise ball.  The office chair is now where the exercise ball was--at one of the workstations in the other room which are discussed in the next section.  The empty shelf is reserved for library books which I hope to be acquiring again soon.

The other development related to self-management is the timer my sister bought me just before she left me alone with Ed the first week of May.  It has two timers, a clock and a stop-watch function.

One of her concerns about leaving me there for a whole week was the tenuous nature of my ability to stay on my med schedule, sleep schedule and food and water intake schedule without outside monitoring.  That is one of the repercussions of an unmanaged mood-disorder.

She had a heart-to-heart with Ed about it in my presence and they elicited solemn promises from me and helped me work out how I might keep on track even on those days when Ed had to work.  The timer coupled with the ritual of writing a todo list every morning was the solution and I stuck to it through the first weekend back at Mom's.  I still maintain the med timer and sleep schedule but I let the todo list drop away during the week I wallowed and have not returned to it.

On Saturday, May 25, I blew it.  First by not sleeping until dawn and then by turning off the med alarm at noon and resetting it in my sleep apparently and then sleeping until 3pm.  I almost missed the scheduled text chat with Ed who had been waiting in the park next to the library in Phoenix for over an hour for me to show up on Gmail.  But it was one of the best sleeps I've had in months.

The week before I left the med nurse had added Ritalin to my day meds to address the issue that makes it so hard for me to maintain the healthy sleep schedule.  The fear that all those 24 to 48 hours and more awake were a symptom of bi-polar has been nearly eliminated and we are leaning toward the theory that its a combination of anxiety and ADD.  With anxiety causing difficulty in getting, staying and returning to sleep and the ADD responsible for the way my brain won't turn back on for 8 to 12 hours after I've slept for over 6 hours which makes me resist sleep when I'm involved in a task or project.

The Ritalin has been a failure and my sister and husband concur.  It did help turn my brain on and give me energy earlier in the day but it also brought back the anxiety that the BP med Metoprolol had removed and left me with lower tolerance for frustration, high irritability and a tendency to meltdown. And after four hours I crashed.  It felt a lot like when I used to drink caffeinated sodas and would crash off the sugar and caffeine.

In other words it put me in a volatile emotional cauldron.  I stopped taking it every day.  I've discovered that it is helpful if what I need to do is primarily physical with little social or emotional elements to it.  Like the unpacking, workouts, or showers.  But it is useless for brain work that entails sitting still like writing or reading.  And only 4 hours?  Really?

I saw the med nurse again today, May 28th.  She increased the Trazadone to 300mg and added Adderall to address the morning mush brain and low energy.  But if I experience a similar reaction as to the Ritalin I am to call and she'll put me on Welbutrin again, which was what I was on before we lost our insurance a year ago.

Tomorrow I'm going in for a fasting blood draw to check the levels of things related to energy and fatigue like thyroid, adrenals, blood sugars, vitamin B and D, and etc  This was something that I asked for when I saw the other nurse who is managing my care last week.  Bit step for me--self advocating, being the one to suggest a course of action.  If I was dealing with a doctor instead of a nurse practitioner I might not have had the courage.  Tho my sister who is officially my advocate might have anyway.  She is bold she is.

Meanwhile there have been enough improvements in my ability to function that I've been able to commit to making and serving lunch for me and Mom every day and load the dishwasher after dinner.

Yeah.  It was once that bad!

On Thursday May 16th  I began to crawl out of the wallow I fell into the morning I said goodbye to Ed and this week I've returned to posting on the meatier reading and writing themes.  I'm hoping that by this time next week I will have been able to garner some Ys in the FICTION FILES column.  I've had some really stimulating ideas as I daydreamed stories in the last month.  Not all of them are in the FOS storyworld either.  My newer story ideas seem to be leaning toward romances which is not my usual fare.  Hmmm.  I wonder where they're coming from.

Friday night I posted about signing up for JuNoWriMo.  Hope I handle it better than I did Camp NaNo in April.  Am going to give one of those love stories a go.

I decided Friday that the workstation I'd been spending most of my time at since returning to Mom's was not working.  I'd gravitated to sitting on the mini-tramp that first weekend because there was so much upheaval everywhere else.  But that had unwanted repercussions--I stopped working out because the tramp was always piled with cushions and for some reason I can't pin down my productivity dropped both on and off the computer.  Maybe that is partly due to not working out.  But it might also be because the setup was more conducive to daydreaming, watching videos or surfing than serious work.  The clue is in the caption I gave the pic in the next section last check-in: Looks more like a nest.

So Saturday's project aimed to fix that.  As discussed below with yet a new pic of yet another major tweak.

And then that didn't quite satisfy so last night I tore it all out and rearranged it yet again but no pic tonight as I'm running out of time.  Have to start fasting soon and have to have food to take meds so that puts me in a bind.

Tomorrow afternoon I am having the eye exam to establish the status of my eye disease for social services and my application to get back on SSI.  Which, with the fasting blood draw first thing in the morning, makes for a very big day for me so I'm cutting myself some slack.

But I have high hopes for getting some serious fiction file work done on Thursday and also intend to return to the free write regimen again by Thursday if not tomorrow.  Now that I've got this workstation working well enough that I can sit fairly comfortably for more than an hour at a stretch there is really no more excuses.

I sometimes get so frustrated by all the tweaking.  It seems I spend more time fiddling with the workstations than I do actually working at them.  I hope I can shift the balance soon.  Meanwhile I'm trying to learn patience with myself and flexibility.  One of the new skills I'm honing is the ability to analyse what is working and what isn't and then apply a likely fix and observe what does and doesn't result.  I'm trying to keep a vision of what success looks like in my head so that I'm always aiming for it.


The evolution of the writing and workout room:

2nd Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
In February a few weeks into the lifequake I realized I could no longer wait until I got home to get serious with my fiction writing but to accommodate it I would need a writing station that afforded privacy, quiet, light, and the ability to move about and make moderate noise without fear of disturbing my sleeping mother.  And I would need to designate a time of day in which I could count on no interruptions.

The time best suited was the hours immediately after Mom heads to bed.  The space was trickier.  But the best bet was somewhere in the room that had once been Mom's office and had become a storage room.  So I rearranged some boxes and created a desk in a cubby behind the stairwell.    I was even able to set up the mini-tramp in there. Tho I had to walk across it to get to my desk, I liked having it there until I fell twice inside a week.

 After the first fall on a Sunday I set my mind to being careful but after the second fall the following Friday I realized careful would not cut it.  Not indefinitely.  Not for someone visually impaired and with such a history of scattered thought and impulsive movement.

After a third incident--a close call--my sister set the tramp on end.  But as I feared it seldom got set down for use after that.  I kept wanting to find the time and energy to rearrange the stuff again to make room for the tramp and a path to my desk.  That became one of the goals as I worked to make room for the stuff coming in from the van the first week of April.

To make room for the tramp I moved my folded clothes into Mom's room and the boxes of Mom's papers under the card table.


Reference Books

The reference books are now on that cabinet above the tramp.  The 1999 World Book set and the Britannica Great Books set I bought from the library in 2005.  And writing related misc.


Cubby desk May 25
The cubby desk has morphed so many times.  I continue to tweak things but continued to find it a very uninviting place to spend much time.  For weeks I  used this station primarily for scanning, storing office supplies and as a paper sorting station.  Last week I moved that chair that bit my butt out and put in its place an exercise ball in front of stacked boxes for a desk.  But never did actually sit at it.

So today, May 25th, I've moved the office chair I'd been using beside the bed in Mom's room in here and the exercise ball in there.  It is a tight fit but I'm test driving it as I work on this post and I am sensing a shift in consciousness. It feels like a place to get work done at now.  I'm more focused on the task at hand.  I'm shifting about less.  I haven't had to get up to get something that isn't at hand.  But a crick in my neck indicates one minor tweak might be needed--raising the desk about two inches.

Let's see if this leads to regaining all those Ys now.


standing desk May 21
One of my preferred netbook stations is this standing desk above the mini-tramp.  I can stand on the tramp to write or while text or video chatting with Ed.   But mostly I listen to music or watch videos while working out.






Looks more like a nest

For the last two weeks (May 11-24) this was my primary writing and Internet surfing station.  I also crocheted while watching videos and sometimes read either ebooks or treebooks.  The tramp in this pic is now my own brought from home.  But as I discussed above, this wasn't working for serious writing.






Bradley
The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearrange the two rooms.  He mountain climbs the stuff.  He picks up small things and carries them off.  Twice it was my reading glasses that I wear over my prescription glasses for close work.  He sits on top of the very thing I need to pick up.

Once he knocked my netbook off the desk.  I had an extreme moment of panic before I got it picked up and checked over.

 I do hope that once Merlin is allowed to join the family the two of them can entertain each other.  So far it looks good.  They talk to each other through the laundry room door.  And once when I brought Merlin up on his leash on our way out for his yard exploration they met and touched noses and nobody hissed.  Bradley did raise one paw over Merlin's head and held it there until Merlin ducked his head and slunk away.


FICTION FILES:



My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
I have selected my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel, The Storyteller's Spouse, to give the bulk of my attention to for the duration of this extended stay at Mom's for the same reasons that I started it in the first place:  Story is the way I think and when I need to process something terribly complex and emotionally overwhelming I often start playing with the what ifs and the people involved and the themes in the same way I do with a novel or short story.  Because of the unusually autobiographical nature of this story I'd never returned to it after NaNo that year but many of the same issues are active in this current lifequake so what better time than now to get this one back out?  It had therapeutic value before and probably will again.

The Storyteller's Spouse is also an exploration of story itself and features a married couple the female lead being a novelist and her husband a raconteur with a rep for tall tales, fish stories and war stories and life of the party yarns.  Neither of them have an especially good grip on reality so their POV scenes are exercises in unreliable narrator.

Synopsis: Lor and Bull Teller, married for over two decades, are about to discover the power of story to either create or destroy when a disturbing accusation lands tall-tale-teller Bull in jail where suddenly he has nothing to say just as Lor, author of evangelical children's stories witnesses something that tangles and then snaps the tether of her faith leaving her afloat on a sea of mystery which often feels like insanity.


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)  What with the lifequake and all I've had to do a lot of reassessing.  Recently I realized that my todo lists are way overloaded even for someone with a reasonably quakeless life.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and techniques of fiction
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff  In late February I lifted the strikethru I put on this the week I left home in January as I brought it back with me on the 22nd.
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious as well as research for a character who is a Tarot reader
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last January and has been the one I've spent the most time with ever since.  Friday's post was a quote post for this one.
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Found this while spelunking the stacks looking for the Smiley book.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  My Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.  Also a Longview library book.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review for blog tour  Haven't finished it yet tho so it will remain in the list.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Found on my shelves while packing books.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.  Tho I admit it is hard to pull it out and read in it now that I'm back at Mom's.  But since Valentine's Week all my new story ideas have been for romances.  Not my usual thing.  But hey, you gotta take what the muse sends or she'll stop sending.  Setting aside the erotica aspects, this book is full of good story structure advice as well as romance genre specific advice.  I'm exploring the idea of writing a love story.  Hmmm.  Not sure who that is that just said that.

Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this last fall and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.

Read more...

Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Share what you (are, have been, are about to, hope to be) reading or reviewing this week. Sign Mr Linky at Book Journey and visit other Monday reading roundups.

The sections of this template:

Intro (here)
My Week in Review (list of books finished and links to bookish posts in the previous week)
Reading Now (my current reading list broken up into NF and Fiction)
Upcoming (scheduled reviews and blog tours and list of finished books awaiting reviews)
Recently (links to bookish posts in the last few weeks)
New Arrivals: (lists of recently acquired ARC broken up into snail mail, email and Net Gallery)
ARC in waiting (a list that is getting shamefully long)

My Week in Review:

The only bookish post all week was last Tuesday's  review/giveaway in a blog tour for the novel Finding Lilly by Lisa Ellis.


Finished reading:

Did not finish anything this week tho I came close on a couple.


Reading Now:

Non-Fiction:

Most of these I plug away in at a snail's pace--a couple pages or chapters per week or even every other week as that is my preferred way to read non-fic.  It sticks with me longer. I'm closing in on the finish line for several but as I get close on one I tend to add two or three more. There are some not listed here because I read in them so infrequently.

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton (Part of my ROW80 reading in craft list)
What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)   ROW80 reading list
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler   ROW80 reading list
And So It Goes by Charles J. Sheilds a bio of Kurt Vonnegut.  (I've posted about this biography of Kurt Vonnegut several time in a kind of reading journal. It is past time for another.  Part of the fun I'm having reading this is in stopping to read the stories he wrote as the narrative reaches the point where he writes them. Since this is an author bio this will also be on my ROW80 reading list )
This Mobius Strip of Ifs by Mathias Freese (I've posted a reading journal post for this collection of personal essays also.  It is past time for another.)
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and tecniques of fiction I'll be adding this to my ROW80 reading list
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff So part of my ROW80 reading list. Have finally taken the strikethru off as I retrieved this from home Thursday
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious this will be on my ROW80 reading list
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last Thursday.   ROW80 reading list
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!   ROW80 reading list
Before You Say I Do Again by Benjamin Berkley  for Blog Tour Review Feb 8.  The review is up but I'm not finished.  This is a very difficult read for me at this time and irony of the events that fell on the same week I was scheduled to review this book did not escape me.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  for an upcoming blog tour   ROW80 reading list
Choice Theory: A Psychology of Personal Freedom by William Glasser M.D. a library book
Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson  I own this book.  Was rereading his essay on friendship this week
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  This Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.   ROW80 reading list
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron   ROW80 reading list
Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer.  my sister bought this one for me after finding me standing by the book rack reading it while waiting on her to exit the restroom at the truck stop in Rice Hill OR on our trip home last week.
It's Not About You by Max Lucado.  I found this on my own shelves while packing up my personal library.  It was one of the last gifts I received from my Dad in 2005 the year he died of cancer.  It has a lovely inscription in his handwriting on the inside front page.  And I was reminded how I'd promised him to read it.  My bookmark was less than half way through and I could not remember if I'd finished it and just left the bookmark in or not but I doubt it.  So I've pulled it out to put on front burner.
Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch  I pulled this off my sister's bookshelf about a month ago.  It is over a thousand pages in smallish font.  So it will be on this list for a long time.  I find it exhilarating that my mind seems ready to tackle text that is so dense in info and complex ideas again.  There is only one other book on this list that fits that criteria, The Act of Creation, and I've not pulled it out very often in these last months but am now finding myself yearning toward it again.   Good signs.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Also found on my shelves.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.  Tho I admit it is hard to pull it out and read in it now that I'm back at Mom's.  But since Valentine's Week all my new story ideas have been for romances.  Not my usual thing.  But hey, you gotta take what the muse sends or she'll stop sending.  Setting aside the erotica aspects, this book is full of good story structure advice as well as romance genre specific advice.  I'm exploring the idea of writing a love story.  Hmmm.  Not sure who that is that just said that.

OK Seriously.  It is now time to start knocking some of these NF off as I did for the fiction over the last couple of months.  By limiting my starts of new novels I guess I was just transferring my need for 'new' to the NF list and now I've got too many to give proper attention to in any two weeks.

That paragraph is kept intact from the last two IMWAYR?  and still the list grows....  So here's a more specific commitment: by next Monday i will have knocked at least one of those NF off that list and...AND posted it's review or be about to.  [oops!  that was last week and I fumbled it.]

Fiction:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  (audio from library)  Was listening to this while working on this Xmas crochet project and have not gotten back to it since Christmas.  I'm going to have to restart it yet again.
The Civilized World by Susi Wyss (another a Tree book ARC that got lost in the mix before I'd finished it.  Have not posted a review for this one either and can't remember when I received it but it had to be at least a year ago before I started packing for our move and likely before 2011 NaNo when I typically stop reading fiction while I'm so intensely writing it.  This is a collection of interlocking short stories set in South Africa and I remember I was quite enjoying it.  I've had to start it over.)
Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse blog tour June 6th.  Historical fiction set in Vietnam during the American war there.
In This Mountain by Jan Karon  Started reading aloud to Mom last Monday


Upcoming:


___Blog Tours:

Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse  review June 6th


___Books I've Finished Awaiting Reviews:

Whenever I'm not pinned to a date like with the blog tours I do very poorly at getting reviews written in a timely way after finishing books and the longer I wait the harder it gets.  This is an issue I'm working on and hope to get a system in place to smooth the track from beginning book to posting review.  But that will mostly have to wait until I'm back home where my time is more my own.  This final week at Mom's and the first week or so I'm back at home are going to be full and unpredictable  So much for that theory.  So much for having anything like predictability anytime soon either.  So I guess that means I have to figure out how to solve this problem in spite of that issue or give up on it altogether.

At Home in Mitford and A Light in the Window by Jan Karon  (the ebook I was reading aloud to my Mom while staying there in March and April. These short little lighthearted chapters are almost like stand-alone short stories with beloved characters and make great bedtime reading for adults wanting pleasant dreams)
The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg   Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list.   I discussed this in such detail in my mid-week ROW80 check-in post it was practically a review and I'll probably copy/paste much of what I said there into the review.
Never Give in to Fear by Marti MacGibbon  This was a NetGalley ARC but later I picked it up for Kindle when it was free on Amazon.  I began it in Adobe Digital Editions and when that timed out on me switched to the Kindle for PC.  This was a memoir of an addict's decent into the abyss and rise back out again and was quite engrossing.
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff  a library book
Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert Meyers (Research for a fiction WIP)

Losses by Robert Wexelblatt an ARC
After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson  This is post apocalyptic horror with zombies.    I anticipated enjoying this even tho zombies are not my favorite horror theme because I really enjoyed his The Red Church and I did but probably not to the same degree.  And its continued.
These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon  The third book in the Mitford series.
Pie Town by Lynne Hinton
My Year as a Clown a novel by Robert Steven Williams  an ebook I got free at Bookbrowser and thus consider an ARC
Out to Caanan by Jan Karon  Book Four of the Mitford series.
Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Curse by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
A New Song by Jan Karon.  The fifth Mitford book.
Legacy by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Spellbound by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
A Common Life: The Wedding Story by Jan Karon

Recently:

___Reviews and Bookish Posts:


 Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Two blog tours in April:

Defiant Heart by Marty Steere   on April 17th  a sweet YA love story set during WWII

The Happiness Workbook by Jenn Flaa on April 24th  Found this very relevant to my current challneges

And a review for an ARC:

Prophet of the Bones by Ted Kosmatka  sci-fi thriller  a fascinating page turner featuring DNA science and science ethics issues.  Set in an alternate history world in which science has proven the age of the earth to be less than 7 thousand years and religion rules science.



Appearances and Other Stories by Margo Krasne
With these well crafted stories, Krasne creates a hall of mirrors as revelation after revelation of family secrets, hidden agendas and wounded psyches reflect back onto each other revealing how unreliable is perception and thus, ironically, how futile those efforts we invest in appearance.



Creature Features by Tim Rowland  Review Mar 12 Tuesday

The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review Mar 14 Thursday

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan for a Net Galley ARC I read on New Year's Day


New Arrivals:

By snail mail:
xxxx
By email:
xxxx
from NetGalley
xxxx

ARC in waiting:

Tree Books:

Most of these I left  behind when I left home for the five week visit at Mom's in early January but now that the visit has been extended indefinitely I retrieved them on our February 21/22 trip down to Phoenix

The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean  read this over a year ago now but still need to review.  It's an emotional block due to the nature of the story being so close to personal experience.  I need to get over it.
The Variations by John Donatich
The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith   My husband read this and loved it and is after me to read it so he can talk about it.
The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller  Nobel winner!!
Skios by Michael Frayn
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbo
Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World by Sabina Berman
Winter Journal by Paul Auster a memoir from an American literary figure that really excites me.
We Sinners by Hanna Pylvaine.   It's another story exploring the impact on family life of a fundamentalist religion.  One of the themes I'm drawn to like Pooh to honey.
Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers' Testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010 compiled by The Organization Breaking the Silence
A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks
Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an american Metropolis by Mark Binelli
The Autobiography of Us
The Abundance by Amit Majmudar


Ebooks:

____By email:

After: The Shock by Scott Nicholson  have at least finished reading it now
Troubled by Scott Nicholson
Losses by Robert Wexelblatt  have read but not yet reviewed
My Year as a Clown a novel by Robert Steven Williams  an ebook I got free at Bookbrowser and thus consider an ARC.  Have read.  Was about to post review but then joined a blog tour for the book so will hold off.

____From Net Galley:


A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  have read but not yet reviewed
Never Give in to Fear by Marti MacGibbon  have read but not yet reviewed
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Unloched by Candace Lemon-Scott
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy 
by Emily Bazelon
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch
With or Without You A Memoir by Domenica Ruta  The 55 days ran out on me before I finished it.  Had actually barely started it so probably no review unless I find it in a library.
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
The Book of Why by Nicholas Montemarano  The 55 days ran out on me before I got far so probably no review until I can find it in a library.  This is a direct result of the lifequake referred to at the beginning of the post.


If anyone reading this states a preference I may let it weigh my decision as to what I begin next from the above list.

Read more...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Serenity #338

moar kittehs   caption share vote
Today down in the Rogue Valley, Ed went golfing with his brother and our nephew.  I got to enjoy imagining them having fun blasting balls across the landscape while I gazed out the window here in Longview watching the rain fall and the leaves on the neighbor's trees dancing.

I'm not being snarky.  I truly enjoyed imagining their enjoyment.

And I didn't spend the whole day in vicarious enjoyment.  My sister took me to Michael's to have my own kind of fun among the thread.

I bought a book of counted cross stitch patterns for bookmarks and some aida cloth, a ball of size 10 crochet crochet thread in Cream, a color I don't have in my palette yet.  I also picked up a size 12 crochet hook, now the smallest hook in my collection.  I seldom see them smaller than size 10 in the stores.

I also got a couple of gadgets for counting rows on crochet projects.  This will help me with a couple of projects that give me fits every time I set them aside for a day or two and then have to try to figure out where in the pattern I left off.  Along with those I got a packet of stitch markers.

And on the 'as is' shelf I picked up a string of beads that had several broken ones for 1/6 the full cost.  I'll pull them off the string and use the good ones singly to decorate bookmarks.

All that for $16.  It's the first time I've spent money on myself for non-essentials since the first of the year.

Read more...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

90th ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 2 2013

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
My goals are all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.

These check-in posts will contain any commentary I have about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in and any relevant links.

Below the commentary is my current reading list for the READ CRAFT goal.


Last round I finished the edit for Blow Me A Candy Kiss, the short story I'm planning to use as the experiment in self publishing.  This was on my original Goals when I first joined ROW80 last April.  It is now ready for beta readers.   Anyone interested can say so in a comment or email me at the email in the sidebar.  A link to an earlier draft can be found in the ROW80 Goals page linked under the spreadsheet below.

In spite of the lifequake I've hung on to nearly all my Ys except for FICTION FILES more often than not tho FREEWRITE has taken a hit since I returned to Mom's on the 11th.  The fact that I did FREEWRITE the whole time I was in Phoenix but lost the habit again when I got back indicates to me that it is the emails and chats with Ed that are taking the place of FREEWRITE.  If I gave myself FREEWRITE credit for those emails I'd definitely have those Ys and I probably should since they are very similar to journaling the only difference being that I edit the emails before I send and to some extent self-edit while writing a little more than when I know I'm the only audience.


Note the one loan Y in FICTION FILES.  First in a long time.  I earned it twice in one day.  Once by playing with the mindmap of the storyworld after updating my Xmind ap and the second by referring to my files to choose a story for JuNoWriMo when I signed up yesterday.  I liked the feeling.  I want more.

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier.  Since so much has changed in the last month I wiped most of the old stuff from the Lifequake and Self-Management sections for the 89th check-in and then added some new pics to the workstation section.

The Lifequake
Self Management
Evolution of the workstations
Fiction Files
Read Craft



THE LIFEQUAKE:

Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
The event I'm calling the lifequake hit me in late January and for the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from it.  The details are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity and most recently in It's Like This, so I won't keep reiterating the story in these check-ins.

The most important fact affecting ROW80 goals is that my 5 week visit at my Mom's begun in early January has been extended indefinitely.  It has been a huge disruption in itself not counting all the disruptions of life, thought and emotion behind the whys and wherefores.



The latest in the series of aftershocks disrupted things so much I had to drop out of ROW80 check-ins for a month.  I left Mom's in Longview WA April 29 to spend the next 11 days in Phoenix OR with my husband packing up the rest of our stuff and helping him prepare for vacating the house on the 15th.  My sister returned here with a third van load of my stuff on May 2nd and then picked me and a forth van load up on the 10th.  I spent the next two days shuffling boxes and bags and stuff around between van and house and my areas at Mom's.  The four days after that I wallowed in the pain of missing Ed, loosing our house and not knowing when the next visit will be now that there are no more loads to go after and no house to call ours.

Merlin
This trip our cat Merlin returned with me and has been part of the comfort.  He is still being kept in the laundry room until we are sure he has no parasites before he is allowed to share a litterbox with Bradley.  So I've created the ritual of going down to spend time with him after Ed and I end our daily online chat.  When it isn't raining I take him outside to explore the yard on his leash.

He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick this winter.  During our last trip in early April my sister took him to the vet and the following week he had surgery to remove rotten teeth and fix his eyelids so his lashes would stop scratching his eyes.  He looks oriental now.  The pic is from several years ago when he was still healthy.


One of my main focuses in the first week home was unpacking and organizing my clothes.  The hanging clothes in the room where my primary workstation is and the folding clothes in the room across the hall which I share with Mom.

When I first arrived in January I had about ten hangers hanging in this closet and now there are two winter coats in there belonging to Mom and everything else is mine.  My coats, sweaters, jackets and vests are hanging on hooks on the door to the room.

Since 89th check-in I've continued to unpack and tweak every area.  One of my projects is to unpack every one of the hastily packed boxes and do the sorting, organizing, cleaning, repair etc that there was no time for before stuffing things in boxes.  Then I'll repack the household stuff and keep those boxes together in anticipation of the first load gong back as soon as Ed is able to move into another place.

SELF-MANAGEMENT


Reading and crafting corner
The creating of stations to accommodate activities has been one of the themes of my organizing.  It was after the books and bookshelves came back last month that I moved my writing workstation entirely out of Mom's room and turned my corner in there into my reading and crafting spot.  Not much of either is happening in there yet though.  There is just too much unpacking and organizing still to do and the time that might be used for reading and crafts is given to those tasks.

The pic to the left is new for 90th check-in, reflecting the latest tweaks.  One of which was switching out the office chair that was there for the exercise ball.  The office chair is now where the exercise ball was--at one of the workstations in the other room which are discussed in the next section.  The empty shelf is reserved for library books which I hope to be acquiring again soon.

The other development related to self-management is the timer my sister bought me just before she left me alone with Ed the first week of May.  It has two timers, a clock and a stop-watch function.

One of her concerns about leaving me there for a whole week was the tenuous nature of my ability to stay on my med schedule, sleep schedule and food and water intake schedule without outside monitoring.  That is one of the repercussions of an unmanaged mood-disorder.

She had a heart-to-heart with Ed about it in my presence and they elicited solemn promises from me and helped me work out how I might keep on track even on those days when Ed had to work.  The timer coupled with the ritual of writing a todo list every morning was the solution and I stuck to it through the first weekend back at Mom's.  I still maintain the med timer and sleep schedule but I let the todo list drop away during the week I wallowed and have not returned to it.

On Saturday, May 25, I blew it.  First by not sleeping until dawn and then by turning off the med alarm at noon and resetting it in my sleep apparently and then sleeping until 3pm.  I almost missed the scheduled text chat with Ed who had been waiting in the park next to the library in Phoenix for over an hour for me to show up on Gmail.  But it was one of the best sleeps I've had in months.

The week before I left the med nurse had added Ritalin to my day meds to address the issue that makes it so hard for me to maintain the healthy sleep schedule.  The fear that all those 24 to 48 hours and more awake were a symptom of bi-polar has been nearly eliminated and we are leaning toward the theory that its a combination of anxiety and ADD.  With anxiety causing difficulty in getting, staying and returning to sleep and the ADD responsible for the way my brain won't turn back on for 8 to 12 hours after I've slept for over 6 hours which makes me resist sleep when I'm involved in a task or project.

The Ritalin has been a failure and my sister and husband concur.  It did help turn my brain on and give me energy earlier in the day but it also brought back the anxiety that the BP med Metoprolol had removed and left me with lower tolerance for frustration, high irritability and a tendency to meltdown. And after four hours I crashed.  It felt a lot like when I used to drink caffeinated sodas and would crash off the sugar and caffeine.

In other words it put me in a volatile emotional cauldron.  I stopped taking it every day.  I've discovered that it is helpful if what I need to do is primarily physical with little social or emotional elements to it.  Like the unpacking, workouts, or showers.  But it is useless for brain work that entails sitting still like writing or reading.  And only 4 hours?  Really?

I'll be seeing the med nurse again next week and really hope there will be another solution that works as well as the Pseudophed in giving me back my  brain inside of two hours awake and keeping me on an even keel and productive all day.

Meanwhile there have been enough improvements in my ability to function that I've been able to commit to making and serving lunch for me and Mom every day and load the dishwasher after dinner.

Yeah.  It was once that bad!

On Thursday May 16th  I began to crawl out of the wallow I fell into the morning I said goodbye to Ed and this week I've returned to posting on the meatier reading and writing themes.  I'm hoping that by this time next week I will have been able to garner some Ys in the FICTION FILES column.  I've had some really stimulating ideas as I daydreamed stories in the last month.  Not all of them are in the FOS storyworld either.  My newer story ideas seem to be leaning toward romances which is not my usual fare.  Hmmm.  I wonder where they're coming from.

Last night I posted about signing up for JuNoWriMo.  Hope I handle it better than I did Camp NaNo in April.  Am going to give one of those love stories a go.

I decided yesterday that the workstation I'd been spending most of my time at since returning to Mom's was not working.  I'd gravitated to sitting on the mini-tramp that first weekend because there was so much upheaval everywhere else.  But that had unwanted repercussions--I stopped working out because the tramp was always piled with cushions and for some reason I can't pin down my productivity dropped both on and off the computer.  Maybe that is partly due to not working out.  But it might also be because the setup was more conducive to daydreaming, watching videos or surfing than serious work.  The clue is in the caption I gave the pic in the next section last check-in: Looks more like a nest.

So today's project aimed to fix that.  As discussed below with yet a new pic of yet another major tweak.

I sometimes get so frustrated by all the tweaking.  It seems I spend more time fiddling with the workstations than I do actually working at them.  I hope I can shift the balance soon.  Meanwhile I'm trying to learn patience with myself and flexibility.  One of the new skills I'm honing is the ability to analyse what is working and what isn't and then apply a likely fix and observe what does and doesn't result.  I'm trying to keep a vision of what success looks like in my head so that I'm always aiming for it.


The evolution of the writing and workout room:

2nd Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
In February a few weeks into the lifequake I realized I could no longer wait until I got home to get serious with my fiction writing but to accommodate it I would need a writing station that afforded privacy, quiet, light, and the ability to move about and make moderate noise without fear of disturbing my sleeping mother.  And I would need to designate a time of day in which I could count on no interruptions.

The time best suited was the hours immediately after Mom heads to bed.  The space was trickier.  But the best bet was somewhere in the room that had once been Mom's office and had become a storage room.  So I rearranged some boxes and created a desk in a cubby behind the stairwell.    I was even able to set up the mini-tramp in there. Tho I had to walk across it to get to my desk, I liked having it there until I fell twice inside a week.

 After the first fall on a Sunday I set my mind to being careful but after the second fall the following Friday I realized careful would not cut it.  Not indefinitely.  Not for someone visually impaired and with such a history of scattered thought and impulsive movement.

After a third incident--a close call--my sister set the tramp on end.  But as I feared it seldom got set down for use after that.  I kept wanting to find the time and energy to rearrange the stuff again to make room for the tramp and a path to my desk.  That became one of the goals as I worked to make room for the stuff coming in from the van the first week of April.

To make room for the tramp I moved my folded clothes into Mom's room and the boxes of Mom's papers under the card table.


Reference Books

The reference books are now on that cabinet above the tramp.  The 1999 World Book set and the Britannica Great Books set I bought from the library in 2005.  And writing related misc.


Cubby desk May 25
The cubby desk has morphed so many times.  I continue to tweak things but continued to find it a very uninviting place to spend much time.  For weeks I  used this station primarily for scanning, storing office supplies and as a paper sorting station.  Last week I moved that chair that bit my butt out and put in its place an exercise ball in front of stacked boxes for a desk.  But never did actually sit at it.

So today, May 25th, I've moved the office chair I'd been using beside the bed in Mom's room in here and the exercise ball in there.  It is a tight fit but I'm test driving it as I work on this post and I am sensing a shift in consciousness. It feels like a place to get work done at now.  I'm more focused on the task at hand.  I'm shifting about less.  I haven't had to get up to get something that isn't at hand.  But a crick in my neck indicates one minor tweak might be needed--raising the desk about two inches.

Let's see if this leads to regaining all those Ys now.


standing desk May 21
One of my preferred netbook stations is this standing desk above the mini-tramp.  I can stand on the tramp to write or while text or video chatting with Ed.   But mostly I listen to music or watch videos while working out.






Looks more like a nest

For the last two weeks (May 11-24) this was my primary writing and Internet surfing station.  I also crocheted while watching videos and sometimes read either ebooks or treebooks.  The tramp in this pic is now my own brought from home.  But as I discussed above, this wasn't working for serious writing.






Bradley
The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearrange the two rooms.  He mountain climbs the stuff.  He picks up small things and carries them off.  Twice it was my reading glasses that I wear over my prescription glasses for close work.  He sits on top of the very thing I need to pick up.

Once he knocked my netbook off the desk.  I had an extreme moment of panic before I got it picked up and checked over.

 I do hope that once Merlin is allowed to join the family the two of them can entertain each other.  So far it looks good.  They talk to each other through the laundry room door.  And once when I brought Merlin up on his leash on our way out for his yard exploration they met and touched noses and nobody hissed.  Bradley did raise one paw over Merlin's head and held it there until Merlin ducked his head and slunk away.


FICTION FILES:



My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
I have selected my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel, The Storyteller's Spouse, to give the bulk of my attention to for the duration of this extended stay at Mom's for the same reasons that I started it in the first place:  Story is the way I think and when I need to process something terribly complex and emotionally overwhelming I often start playing with the what ifs and the people involved and the themes in the same way I do with a novel or short story.  Because of the unusually autobiographical nature of this story I'd never returned to it after NaNo that year but many of the same issues are active in this current lifequake so what better time than now to get this one back out?  It had therapeutic value before and probably will again.

The Storyteller's Spouse is also an exploration of story itself and features a married couple the female lead being a novelist and her husband a raconteur with a rep for tall tales, fish stories and war stories and life of the party yarns.  Neither of them have an especially good grip on reality so their POV scenes are exercises in unreliable narrator.

Synopsis: Lor and Bull Teller, married for over two decades, are about to discover the power of story to either create or destroy when a disturbing accusation lands tall-tale-teller Bull in jail where suddenly he has nothing to say just as Lor, author of evangelical children's stories witnesses something that tangles and then snaps the tether of her faith leaving her afloat on a sea of mystery which often feels like insanity.


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)  What with the lifequake and all I've had to do a lot of reassessing.  Recently I realized that my todo lists are way overloaded even for someone with a reasonably quakeless life.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller  Net Galley a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels. Since this discusses writing and techniques of fiction
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff  In late February I lifted the strikethru I put on this the week I left home in January as I brought it back with me on the 22nd.
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols Since I'm reading this for an understanding of character type and the language of symbol understood by our unconscious as well as research for a character who is a Tarot reader
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley  This was one of the 24 items I checked out of the Longview library on my sister's card last January and has been the one I've spent the most time with ever since.  Friday's post was a quote post for this one.
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.  Found this while spelunking the stacks looking for the Smiley book.  Who knew.  Dick was a mystic.  I've only read one of his novels and a few short stories but now I've got to try to find and read everything!
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor  This is a reread for me and has had significant impact on the development of my storyworld in the early months of its inception.  My Friday post was about my current encounter with it after checking it out of the Longview library again for the first time in over a decade.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.  Also a Longview library book.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  Review for blog tour  Haven't finished it yet tho so it will remain in the list.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent.  Found on my shelves while packing books.  I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007.  It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.  Tho I admit it is hard to pull it out and read in it now that I'm back at Mom's.  But since Valentine's Week all my new story ideas have been for romances.  Not my usual thing.  But hey, you gotta take what the muse sends or she'll stop sending.  Setting aside the erotica aspects, this book is full of good story structure advice as well as romance genre specific advice.  I'm exploring the idea of writing a love story.  Hmmm.  Not sure who that is that just said that.

Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this last fall and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.

Read more...

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