Monday, March 31, 2014

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 (or two) in Review (list of books finished and links to bookish posts in the previous week or two)
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)

Flannery O'Connor
Mystery and Manners:
Occasional Prose
I finished two books this past week.  I credit two things--the fact I now have most of the currently reading ebooks accessible from all three of my devices and the the small chunks of time opening up as the new routines suggested by my husband in our coaching sessions are implemented.

As the benefits to having habits and routines became obvious I began looking for ways to recreate the habit of reaching for a book even when there might be only moments.

Having most of the ebooks in all of the currently reading lists here loaded on one or more of my Aspire laptop, Blaze smartphone, Nexus 7 tablet and Google Drive, is encouraging such a habit to form.  But tho I've been reaching for them more and more often for short waiting episodes I'm still struggling to find blocks of time to read as I've taken on more responsibility here at Mom's and stepped up my self-care--sleep, exercise and hygiene--which is important for the treatment of the mood disorder.

But the habit of reaching for the the treebook on my desk, the ebook tab on my start menu, or the ebooks on my smartphone and tablet is strengthening and we know that reading is the kind of thing that the more you do the more you want to do.

My Week (or two) in Review:


John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes -- March 11 blog tour

John Smith is in his 80s and has lived in the bunker built and supplied by his family since he was eleven and the World that Was ended.  As he puts it, the Universe decided it was time to reboot.

It's been over 60 years and he has been discovered by scouts from one of the organized enclaves who have now sent one of their twenty-something female reporters to interview him about the the Microsoft Wars and the end of the World that Was.

~Other Bookish Posts:

Engulped by a Book
Enspelled By Story

Finished reading recently:

Blood Drama by Christopher Meeks -- just finished
In the Company of Others by Jan Karon  --  read aloud to Mom.
John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes
Where the Wildflowers Grow by Vera Jane Cook 
Back Home Again by Melody Carlson

Began reading recently:

Complexity and the Arrow of Time by (multiple authors) --  a collaboration of scientists, philosophers and theologians exploring the concepts of Complexity Theory.  a NetGalley ARC
My AWAI Copywriting course Installment 1 (of 13)
The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshal -- this is a re-read.  It is one of the ebooks packaged with the Marshall Plan writer's software sent to me by Evan Marshall in exchange for sharing my experience on Joystory.
Where the Wildflowers Grow by Vera Jane Cook -- January 21 blog tour
Organic Beauty With Essential Oil by Rebecca Park Totilo  --  January 23 blog tour
Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life
by Eric Lindner  --  January 29 blog tour
The Korean Word For Butterfly by James Zerndt --  February 4 blog tour.
420 Characters by Lou Beach  -- library book
Back Home Again by Melody Carlson -- first in another series I'm reading to Mom
John Smith: Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars by Roland Hughes

Reading Now (Some Intermittently):


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.

This is getting to be too much even for me. So a few weeks ago I decided to prioritize five and grey out the rest and add one back for every one I finish.  

The top two are elevated above the 5 because they are commitments with different parameters--AWAI will be swapped out with the next installment 12 times and Hospice Voices, the current evening read-aloud, will take between two and three months to finish.
Feb 23 -- Will be keeping library books separate between the priority 5+2 and the inactive section showing as active when checked out and inactive when returned unfinished.

My AWAI Copywriting course Installment 1 (of 13)
Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life
by Eric Lindner  --  January 29 blog tour (February 10 have started over, reading aloud to Mom)
Going to the Chapel by ? -- second in the Grace Chapel Inn series I'm reading to Mom.  We took a break from Hospice Voices to read this as it is a series from Guidepost and new volumes will come in the mail at intervals--unless we didn't care for it, in which case my sister would cancel before the next one is due.  But we are loving it.  Maybe even more than the last half of the Mitford and Father Tim volumes.  Three sisters ages 50, 62 and 70 inherit jointly their family home after their father's death.  A Victorian in a very small town situated next door to the church their father pastored.  They decide to turn into a Bed and Breakfast so they can afford to keep it and live in it.

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.
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.)
The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshal -- this is a re-read.
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)
Complexity and the Arrow of Time by (multiple authors) -- a collaboration of scientists, philosophers and theologians exploring the concepts of Complexity Theory. a NetGalley ARC

~Library Books
Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights
by Marina Warner  --  has gone back to the library.  want it back.  actually I want it on my own reference shelf
The Golden Thread: A History of Writing by Ewan Clayton This the story of the alphabets and writing tools from the early stone tablets to the digital age.
American Heretics: Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and the History of Religious Intolerance by Peter Gottschalk  The history of conflict between the major religions since the inception of America, the country whose constitution guaranteed freedom of religion.
Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison An apologia for skepticism and the scientific method.

~Blog Tour books still unfinished
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf  ROW80 reading list  posted review for blog tour in March 2013  but still not finished
Before You Say I Do Again by Benjamin Berkley  for Blog Tour Review Feb 8 2013.  The review is up but I'm not finished.
Organic Beauty With Essential Oil  --  January 23 blog tour

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton  ROW80 reading list
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
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron   ROW80 reading list
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff  on ROW80 reading list.
Jung and the Tarot: An Archetypal Journey by Sallie Nichols    On ROW80 reading list as I'm reading this for an understanding of archetype, character type and the language of symbol.
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor    ROW80 reading list  This is a reread
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller   ROW80 reading list  Net Galley ARC a NF that purports to answer many puzzles in the Austen novels.
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. Part of the fun is in stopping to read the stories as the narrative reaches the point he writes them. An author bio thus on my ROW80 reading list )
13 Ways of Looking at a Novel by Jane Smiley   ROW80 reading list
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick.   ROW80 reading list  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!


The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon -- one of the new library books and also a NetGalley ARC that timed out on me a couple months ago.
Choice Theory: A Psychology of Personal Freedom by William Glasser M.D.

Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson  I own this book.


Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch  I pulled this off my sister's bookshelf awhile back.  It is over a thousand pages in smallish font.  So it will be on this list for a long time.


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  (audio from library)  Was listening to this while working on this Xmas crochet project in 2012 and have had to restart it several times and get pulled away again and again and again.
The Civilized World by Susi Wyss Tree book ARC, 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...and over...and over
A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon  --  a NetGalley ARC was reading last fall when the blog tour schedule took over

~Library Books
420 Characters by Lou Beach  A beautifully made book physically.  With beautifully wrought prose composing several dozen flash fictions told in 420 characters or less counting spaces and punctuation that were originally published as status updates on fb.  One of six fiction books I checked out last week.

~Blog Tour books still unfinished
 Arctic Fire by Paul Byers.
The Thunderbird Conspiracy by R. K. Price
The Three Sisters by Bryan Taylor
Head Games by Erika Rummel
Tinseltown Riff by Shelly Frome
The Korean Word For Butterfly by James Zerndt


___Blog Tours:

___Books I've Finished Awaiting Reviews (non blog tours):

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.

Jan Karon's Mitford series. 
The short lighthearted chapters of these books are almost like stand-alone short stories with beloved characters and make great bedtime reading for adults wanting pleasant dreams.  

I was reading them aloud to my Mom during my visits here for nearly two years and I decided some time back to wait until we finished them all and do one review for the entire series.  We began the first one spring of 2012 but had not finished before I went home after my November visit.  My sister had taken over in December and had finished book 1 and started book 2.  As soon as I caught up to where they were last January (2013) I took over mid book 2.  

Feb 10 2014: We just finished the last one, In the Company of Others, 
  • At Home in Mitford 
  • A Light in the Window by Jan Karon  
  • These High, Green Hills by Jan Karon  .
  • Out to Caanan by Jan Karon 
  • A New Song by Jan Karon.  
  • A Common Life: The Wedding Story by Jan Karon
  • Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon 
  • In This Mountain by Jan Karon
  • A Light From Heaven by Jan Karon  --   the final book in the Mitford series.
  • At Home in Holly Springs by Jan Karon  --  Father Tim series first of two.  Features Father Tim from the Mitford series having adventures beyond Mitford after his retirement from Episcopal priest duty. In this one he returns to the town he grew up in. 
  • In the Company of Others by Jan Karon  --  Father Tim series second of two.  In this one he and Cynthia have a several week vacation in Ireland from where his father and grandfather had immigrated
Back Home Again by Melody Carlson -- first book in the Grace Chaple Inn series published by Guidepost which I'm now reading to Mom.

The Land of Decoration by Grace McClean
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff  a library book
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.
Pie Town by Lynne Hinton
Good in Bed by Jennifer Wiener
Certain Girls by Jennifer Wiener (sequel to Good in Bed)
Joyland by Stephen King
Rose Fire by Mercedes Lackey

Another series for which I'll probably do a single review. I think there is a 5th book out now so I may wait until I can get my hands on it.  These four were loaners from my niece.

  • Witch by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
  • Curse by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
  • Legacy by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
  • Spellbound by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer.
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson   ROW80 reading list (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.
 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 this ROW80 check-in post which 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.
Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert Meyers (Research for a fiction WIP)

Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Other Dangers of Southern Living by by Bailey White I thought this was a novel and getting set to put it in the fiction list below when I thought to check out its page on Goodreads and discovered it is a memoir.  It's short little vignette chapters and easy to read font made it ideal for taking with me to doctor appointments.  Which is how I managed to finally finish it.


___Reviews and Bookish Posts:

Library Loot from today's visit--Fiction
Friday Forays in Fiction -- author quote on LOLcat with kittehs 2 cents worth

Friday Forays in Fiction

Looting the Library Brought home ten books.

Nexus 7 in Keyboard Case

Friday Forays in Fiction: Reading Hungers  -- it's mine now. No more schlepping back and forth to the library and restarting it 3-5 times a year.
A Nexus of Aspirations -- Another one has fallen off my Lust List
Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote -- a quote, a poem, a LOLcat
Sometimes You Just Gotta --  Did you hear the clatter as this 25 year resident of the top notch of my Lust List fell off?
This Is Just Wrong!  A lit cat LOL

Author Interview with James Zerndt for his, The Korean Word For Butterfly blog tour. Feb 11

The Korean Word For Butterfly by James Zerndt --  February 4 blog tour

I was in my late twenties when I was first introduced to novels featuring the interplay between two or more cultures.  It was the late eighties and one of my Literature and Creative Writing professors (Lawson Inada, later Poet Laureate for Oregon) assigned us a book by an Amer-Indian woman.  Silko?  I was entranced and began to seek them out and have continued to favor them ever since.  Trust me when I say, James Zerndt compares favorably with some of the best I encountered with his The Korean Word for Butterfly.  I am grateful to him for introducing me to the Korean/American relationship.

Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life by Eric Lindner  --  January 29 blog tour

Eric Linder has given us a treasure in Hospice Voices.  He has taught us how to see beyond the visible evidence of physical degeneration and grief over imminent loss to the beauty of the souls preparing to pass on.  He has tapped into the power of storytelling to show us those souls as they sort through their memories and emotions in their attempt to find meaning in their life and share their insights or define the essence of their 'I' and see recognition and validation in the eyes of those, like Eric, with the patience, compassion and courage to bear witness--to listen and observe with neither prejudice nor prescription.

Small town Georgia, 1960. Passions and secrets marinate in a simmering summer heat.  Instead of a single protagonist like Sassy in The Story of Sassy Sweetwater to get attached to and to view the events through, Cook has given us a large cast of at least a dozen well drawn and differentiated characters (The Cassidy family of four and all those caught in their gravity well) whose secrets entwine their many lives like bindweed with some of the most insidious vines being those secrets individuals keep from themselves until they've gained a choke hold on their hope and happiness, their very lives and those of their nearest and dearest.

Organic Beauty With Essential Oil by Rebecca Park Totilo  --  January 23 blog tour

With several personal experiences behind me I needed no further proof that essential oils were essential to health and happiness when the blog tour invite for this book landed in my email.  I was excited by the blurb description and this book, unlike some, totally lived up to its blurb.  It is jammed packed with recipes for personal hygiene whose names are drool worthy.

I suggest not reading this book while hungry.

My Friday Forays in Fiction featured another one of my LOLcats displaying a literary quote along with a kitteh's spin on it.

New Arrivals:

By snail mail:

By email:

from NetGalley

ARC in waiting:

Tree Books:

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
Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman by Minka Pradelski


____By email:

Troubled by Scott Nicholson

____From Net Galley:

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee
What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Muller
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  [the  55 day NetGalley digital edition timed out before I finished but I have just nabbed a library copy]
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 day NetGalley digital edition timed out before I finished but I am watching for a library copy]
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
The Book of Why by Nicholas Montemarano  [the  55 day NetGalley digital edition timed out before I finished but I am watching for a library copy]
Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson
Kinslow System Your Path to Proven Success in Health, Love, and Life by Frank J Kinslow
Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza
Women, Sex, Power, And Pleasure Getting the Life (and Sex) You Want by Evelyn Resh
All Is Well: Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition by Louise Hay & Mona Lisa Schulz
The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth by Bruce H. Lipton,
The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth by Bruce H. Lipton,
A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon
Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
Directing Your Destiny by Jennifer Grace
Hiding in Sunshine by John Stuart and Caitlin Stuart
I Am: Renewal from Within the Garden by Lucie K Lewis
The Book Publisher's Toolkit by Independent Book Publishers Association
The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino
Why Priests? by Garry Wills
Why we Write by by Meredith Maran (Editor)
A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershon
Complexity and the Arrow of Time by (multiple authors) --  a collaboration of scientists, philosophers and theologians exploring the concepts of Complexity Theory.

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


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Serenity #382

Practicing My Happy Face
I took this with my Aspire laptop camera.  This was my first selfie.  Tho it took me five tries to get an acceptable one.  I'm out of practice at smiling so it feels forced and then looks forced.  The first four also displayed four separate emotions not usually associated with smiles: bored, confused, anxious and in pain.

To get that one I had to tap into memories of laughing babies and squee LOLkittens and the last laugh I shared with Ed.

It's rare for me to post a full face photo.  This time its because my sister and I got haircuts last evening and I guess I wanted to showoff share the result.

All ready for spring and summer now.

It had been about a year since the last one and my very thick hair had reached my collarbones.  It's like wearing a wool blanked on my head.

It was also getting to be too hard to take care of and took twelve to twenty-four hours to thoroughly dry.  Using a blow dryer caused it to frizz.

Having it done was as much in honor of my new morning routine as of the arrival of spring.  This past week I spent three times as long on the hair then on the face and teeth.  I actually had to fuss with it twice as I had to get it pinned back to keep it out of the way for washing my face and brushing my teeth and then primp it for the vid chat with Ed.

Now doing my hair should take less than 90 seconds. Thus brushing my teeth which requires 2 minutes minimum will probably earn the honor of longest task of the three.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

I Tried It My Way

Halpz Pleez?
Second in the Why I Need a Coach series.

Why I Need a Coach I  Just the final Round 1 check-in entry
Why I Need a Coach III

Anyone reading most of the last week's posts and following the trajectory of my husband's coaching me in time-management and self-managment but were new to my story might be wondering why a 50 something woman needs to have tasks assigned to her like a tweener.

Some women might even see my submitting to my husband's guidance as an offence to a modern woman's social position.

I raised those questions in my ROW80 check-in post on Wednesday and attempted to answer them only to find that the scroll through my explanation seemed longer than the measuring tape I measure my shrinking waist with twice a week.

That plus the fact I'd recently decided to start posting about my challenges with self and time management outside the supportive ROW80 community meant that I would have to repeat myself in a later post if I didn't just move the material into a fresh post and save it for the next day.

But then I reneged on my promise to answer the questions in Thursday's post because I'd frittered away my time until there wasn't enough of it to complete the extensive editing the moved material needed in order to stand alone.  So I had to push it to Saturday because the Friday slot was already planned.

Before I finished my first read-through of the draft today I realized there was too much material for a single post so I'm going to split it into several posts.


So why is a grown woman in this decade willing to submit to the direction of her husband on what to do and when?

The short answer is:  I tried it my way from the age of 20 to 56 and never got anything but messes out of my efforts.  Including the mess in my head.

Over and over again it didn't work.  I kept thinking:

  • I wasn't trying hard enough
  • I was lazy
  • I wasn't sacrificing enough for the cause (my writing)
  • I was just a dilettante
  • I was untrustworthy (due to inconsistency in action and mood)
  • I was a slob
  • I was a failure
  • I was a fraud
  • I was useless
  • and on and on and on

My way consisted mostly of trying to put writing first always.  First above self-care (sleep, nutrition, hygiene, exercise, relaxation), first above schedules, first above relationships, first above fun....

That was the advice that seemed to permeate all the writing books.  You must not want it bad enough if you put anything else first.  But all I got from it were millions of journaling and freewrite words, dozens of fiction WIP, hundreds of unpolished poems, dozens of unfinished book reviews, and dozens of unpublishable, rambling personal essays.

It was crazy-making.

Yet I kept resisting the advice from other fronts--parents, husband, friends, siblings, self-help books, counselors--that without some structure to my days my writing would remain little but a private hobby.  Without structure I would not develop the consistency required to finish projects and meet deadlines.

But why my husband?

Short answer: He has over 30 years of experience in self-management, time-management, people management, and project management in his role as supervisor of teams beginning with the Marine Corp followed by janitorial then IT then a shipping dock.

It doesn't hurt that he knows me and the situation well.  Or that he has lived the repercussions.

Oh, and its free.  In terms of cash anyway.

He was reluctant when I asked him last Friday to resume the coaching sessions we began last year in late spring.

'I have no desire to be your boss.' he said.

But I was desperate and I begged.

So he agreed on the condition that it is understood that the goal is for me to:

  • absorb the lessons at the principle level so I can assess new situations on the fly and apply the principles to adjust the goals, methods, tactics or strategy without any outside help.  
  • develop and maintain a consistency in staying on track with the scheduled tasks 
  • and staying on task with each one as their turn comes.
  • develop flexibility so I'm not thrown for a loop by the unexpected
  • develop bounce-back-ability 
  • stop taking failures personally and 'beating myself up' over them.  Just say 'OK that happened' and move on.

In other other words learn how to be my own supervisor.

The principles he works from that I've gleaned so far:

  • set smaller reachable goals to accumulate rewards in the feeling of success.
  • take those memories and make them the carrot aka the motivator.
  • create habits and routines on autopilot for self-care tasks 
  • create a structure for my days by adding the daily tasks one or two at a time, anchoring them to an existing habit
  • streamline the tasks by implementing routines and insuring all necessary materials are accounted for and kept in order

I'm sure there are more because he doesn't always define them until after he's led me by the hand into an Ah ha! moment that burns a memory that contains the principle in a wordless, holistic lesson.

But none of that really explains why a grown woman who has read dozens of self-help books can't implement the advice on her own but needs one-on-one and step-by-step coaching.

There is really no short answer.

But there is a list of reasons.  Personal challenges that combine into an overwhelming jigsaw puzzle comprised of the jumbled pieces of half a dozen puzzles, a convoluted and lightless maze with so many notches on the walls they have no meaning, a mathematical equation too complex for Einstein to solve:

  • I'm ADD (recently diagnosed)
  • I have Panic/Anxiety/Depression mood disorder
  • I'm legally blind with RP aka Tunnel Vision
  • I have high blood pressure
  • I'm overweight 
  • I'm living in my elderly Mother's household run by my sister who is her caretaker. (see the 2013 February and March posts under the lifequake label for context) 

This environment is chaotic due to the following:

  • Including my sister's YA son all four of us are ADD
  • My nephew also has the same mood disorder as me
  • All four of us are hoarders and/or organizationally challenged
  • My sister and I both moved the stuff from our own households into this one and every surface in every room is an archaeological dig
  • My mother is 82 and also legally blind with the RP, plus she is Aphasic due to the stroke during her hip surgery after a fall in 2008, and is in severe chronic pain from osteoporosis inflicted damage to her spine just above the tailbone.  
  • Mom can no longer be left home alone for more than a couple of hours and that's becoming iffy.
  • My sister does respite care for behavior challenged kids and there is often one or two spending a day to a week here. Or she goes to their house leaving me on duty with Mom.

That is enough for this post.  It answers all the questions I posed in Wednesday post.

I've moved out all the paragraphs in which I tried to describe each of the challenges and how their interplay makes them exponentially more challenging and sometimes even life, limb or health threatening.  They just about double the word count and yet aren't nearly complete enough.  There is probably material for multiple future posts and I plan to continue developing it in my WhizFolder note ap and dole them out as this story line of Joy's Story progresses.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Forays in Fiction: Spring Challenges

hello mai purritteez
see my 1st caption of this pic here
with my poem Prioritizing Agony
both with the same theme as this post

There are four challenges I'm joining this spring.  That I know about so far.

It is not the first time for any of them.  I always seem to go into them with sparkling expectations and excitement but by the 1/4 mark I can already see I'm not going to meet my goals then the remainder of the challenge is tainted by demoralization, stress, and desperation.

And at the end, in spite of all that I did accomplish that would not have gotten done without the challenge and community support, I come away with a pervasive sense of failure.  Not just failure to meet my goals but personal failure as in Looser or Fool, Clown or Fraud.

So this spring, in the spirit of the time-management coaching goals my husband has in mind, I am running my goal concepts past him to get his observations, suggestions and explanations of what makes a reachable goal and how each of my concepts would impact both the goals weeks, months or years out and the already in place goals for the foundation of self-care we are working to put into place to support the other goals, dreams and aspirations.

It is very important that I don't sabotage what we have already got in place or set myself up for another experience of failure.  Thus it is better to keep the stated goal a reachable challenge--doable but only by pushing myself a bit.

UPDATE: I added Bloggiesta Saturday morning because I found out it was currently in session this weekend only after I'd posted.

March 27-30
Bloggiesta -- The Blog Improvement Fiesta  SPRING 2014: March 27-30

I found out just before midnight last night (Friday) that Bloggiesta was on this weekend and I'd already missed two days.  The last one I participated in was fall of 2012 because I keep missing them by a few days to a month, learning about them by stumbling upon someone's Bloggiesta posts after it was all over.

I need to find a way for the information to reliably reach me ahead of the fiesta.  Now that Bloggiesta has its own hub blog maybe it also has a newsletter or subscribe to post form?  [DONE]

I almost decided to let it go but I'd been needing a Bloggiesta for the impetus and info it provides along with the community support and the sense of accountability provided by publishing the 2DO list.

I had to wait until I was able to consult my time management coach (aka my husband) before I could publish a 2DO list though as I'm utterly convinced that I could not make a list that would not sabotage the success we built up this past week. See final paragraph of the top section.

During this morning's (Saturday) vid chat Ed immediately saw the importance for me to participate.  He said it was analogous to a college course or seminar in blog management and would tie me into a community with the management expertise in an area he was not up to speed on but that was essential to my aspirations to self-publish and freelance among other online biz concepts I have.

So after conferring with me on the most urgent tasks he helped me create this list:


  • Update Friday's Spring Challenge post to include Bloggiesta
  • Sign up on Bloggiesta blog
  • Finish the structural rewrite and fine edit of the draft for Saturday's post which was promised in Tuesday's post for Wednesday and then postponed because I mismanaged my time Wednesday
  • Post Saturday's post, I Tried it My Way and link it on the fb fan page and twitter. Share fan page post with fb ROW80 Group (those whom I made the promise to on Tuesday)
  • Subscribe to Bloggiesta post via email. (yeah. I just added that. It was not on my radar when discussing with Ed this morning)


  • Prep and post the Sunday Serenity post.  Link on the fb fan page and twitter. 
  • Prep Monday's IMWAYR? post and schedule it to go live after midnight
  • Clean up the Joy Renee on the Web section removing defunct links and adding new
  • Clean up social media section and add links to SM I signed up for after the last time this was done..  Most urgent is to get small discrete buttons for a more professional look. I would like that section to take up no more screen real estate than a credit card
  • Clean out old and defunct buttons and banners in the challenges section of the sidebar and replace with current ones.  The five in this post at minimum
  • Break my lurking habit and interact socially in the Bloggiesta community by commenting, asking a question, do a mini-challenge, or participate in the twitter conversation
  • Update Camp NaNo profile to reflect the goals for April Camp

Wrap up:  I didn't get the sidebar work done, nor the mini-challenge and socializing,, nor Monday's post to give me a day out from under the pressure.  But I did spend a lot of time exploring the mini-challenges both current and archived.  I focused on organization, sidebar, social media and monetizing.  I don't think I'll wait for the next Bloggiesta to continue reading and then applying what I learn. I may even add blog management goals to my ROW80 for the next two rounds at least.

Camp NaNo --  Kickoff at midnight (12:00:01) April 1st.  That's Monday night folks!

This is different from the November NaNo in which the majority of participants comply with the original challenge of a 50K novel in 30 days.  For the NaNo camps you can choose your own writing project in any category or genre.  And establish your own word count and/or other measurable goal(s).

My original idea was to
  • Create a backlog of 15 book reviews ready for posting from the many I have in progress or from other books I've already read.
  • Rewrite and edit my 6000 word short story Blow Me a Candy Kiss
  • Complete all the writing exercises for my AWAI  copywriting course

I'd only got as far as listing the first one when Ed said he needed to think about it overnight.  Two days later he said 7 reviews was a reachable goal.  It took a detailed explanation of his logic before I agreed.  Its not that I couldn't do more just that I shouldn't state more as the goal so that I would get the rush of success when I achieved it and again for every extra one.

But then I told him that I had also been thinking about a structural rewrite and fine edit of Candy Kiss.  Which would entail two to three passes through the 6000 words and likely a bit of expansion up to an additional 2-4K.

That's when he said Drop the reviews and do that!

I was reluctant and it took a lengthy explanation of his reasoning before I agreed.  The most salient point he had was that I had set as my first goal in my first round of ROW80  Spring of 2012 to get Candy Kiss prepped for a self-pub experiment and not only is it still not done, it is a pivotal task in the establishment of my dream of self-publishing my writing.

He would like to see me actually publish it by the end of the month as he believes it is important for me to get the ice broken on that and realizes that the hardest part of that challenge is the emotional work I'd have to be doing as I write and edit in order to be ready to take the plunge when the time comes.

No, I didn't even bother to share my intent to add the AWAI exercises.  I dropped the idea as his reasoning on the others was convincing and I could see it ruled out adding anything else as his estimate on the time investment required for the Candy Kiss project was well above 30 hours.  I would guess 20-30 hours per pass through the manuscript.

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 2 2014

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life

ROW80 --  A Round of Words in 80 Days -- The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life

Altho this is modeled after the November NaNo it is four rounds a year of 80 days each with brief hiatuses between.

It's about flexibility and learning to adjust goals as needed.  You can work on any kind of writing project or multiple projects but your goals must be defined such that they are measurable.

Since I knew how crazy word count often makes me I started off in April 2012 to use time investment goals and as of January this year I use a Google Doc spreadsheet to keep track and then share both a screenshot and a link to the chart itself in check-ins.

My goals for round 2 this year will combine the goal of regaining the ground I lost as reflected in the spreadsheet in March by the end of April with the goals for Camp NaNo in April and JuNoWriMo in June along with the Time Management, Self-Management and Project Management goals Ed is coaching me on which are all designed to support my writing and entrepreneurial goals.

Add caption
Dewey's Read-a-Thon -- 24 hours of reading, sharing, mini-challenges, prizes, cheerleading, bloging, social networking...

There are no goals for this one other than to enjoy it and go with the flow. It will depend on my mood when the time comes what the ratio between reading and the other possible activities will be

I used to pride myself on my ability to stay awake the full 24 but that is no longer a given.  Unless I have had a solid week of good sleep (7.5+ per night) I shouldn't even try.  But even then I would have to do it without fudging on my med schedule which is tricky with the bedtime Trazadone which I'm rarely able to resist more than an hour.

JuNoWriMo 2012
JuNoWriMo -- Begins June 1.  It's a little more flexible than NaNoWriMo which encourages you to start with a fresh story and write a 50K novel as it allows for continuing with a WIP while counting only the words produced in June.

I thought I remembered that it didn't have to be a novel or even fiction but I can't find that mentioned on the site today.

I was hoping to transfer my Book Review Backlog concept to JuNo but if that isn't possible I'll save it for July Camp NaNo and choose among:

  • put another short story through the rewrite and edit wringer
  • wander around my fiction files adding words to character sketches, character monologues, scenes, back story and NaNo messes drafts
  • select a previous NaNo mess draft and do a structural rewrite aka clean up the NaNo mess
  • select a previous NaNo mess draft that is likely to need another 40K to complete and start working where I left off at the end of its NaNo
  • start a fresh novel from the long list of story seeds I have backloged


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oops! I Mismanaged My Time Again!

iz mai dooty 2 in4rm u u r wayk whey passt ur bedtyme

So sorry but I'm going to have to postpone the post I promised in yesterday's ROW80.  I frittered away my post writing time this morning and then this afternoon and evening was too full to fit in time to edit the rough draft I wrote last night.  One crisis after another in the household today and my help was needed elsewhere.

It won't go up until Saturday now as I already have a post planned for Friday Forays in Fiction.  That works well anyway since I would have needed something to take the place of the Saturday night ROW80 which has just gone on hiatus until April 7.

To make this as quick and easy as possible I'm even recycling an LOLcat that I made about a year ago.  It reflects my old way of doing things which I'm trying to replace with a new way with my husband's help.

I now see the cat's POV and agree.  Shorting myself on sleep was making me squirrely.

When I confessed to Ed in our late afternoon coaching vid chat, that I'd sabotaged my recent successes by filling what I had felt was extra time with minutia and goofing off, he helped me see how this pattern sabotages my efforts.

The pattern he means is my propensity to translate 'caught up' into WOW look at all the extra time I have now.  And then treat it as free time before I've completed that day's necessary tasks.

I had just got caught up on a backlog of posts as of yesterday and my assignment for the next week was to stay on track,  with the new wake up and exercise routines and posting daily before dinner so my evening meds and bedtime were not derailed and my next day sabotaged by both having my night meds still in my system into the late morning and having the added stress of a second post.

Ed didn't tell me this bluntly.  That's not his style.  He helped me see it by asking questions that made me think about the cause and effect of my actions--how their ripple effects keep me off track, stressed, and set me up for failure.

Then instead of telling me what to do, he asked me How are you going to fix this?

I asked Fix?

He said: Get your post up today.  He pointed out it was already time to start dinner prep (at that moment it looked like I was going to be making dinner so my sister could run some must-do errands but she decided to get pizza instead) after dinner was reading to my Mom and if that was over on time I would have less than an hour before time to take the Trazadone that brings on sleep twenty to forty minutes later.

Of course my first two ideas were fall back ones--fallback to old habits: Either let it slide over to morning or push meds and bedtime back to get it up.  But Ed suggested that was likely to be demoralizing by interrupting my string of successes over the last week besides adding extra stress to tomorrow..

Was there a way to avoid either pushing back meds and sleep or adding an extra post to tomorrow?

I had to think for awhile but it finally came to me: postpone the post that needs an hour or more of editing and put up a LOLcat and an apology.  I was picturing this LOLcat and a couple or three lines.  But I always have to tell a story don't I?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

151st ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 1 2014

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.

In Round 1 this year 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 in April 2012.  It is now ready for beta readers.   Anyone interested can say so in a comment or email me at the email in the sidebar.  I've had one beta reader so far but would really appreciate at least one more before I take the plunge with it.

Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier.  For Round 4 I've stripped Current of all previous entries, rewrote Fiction Files to reflect current goals, added AWAI Copywriting, and pruned the kudzu out of Lifequake, Self-Manage and Workstation sections.  

Current Check-In --
Fiction Files -- newly adjusted goals for January 2014
Other Writing -- working the AWAI course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings
Read Craft -- several recently finished books
The Lifequake -- Life decided to give me free lessons on the art of flexibility in January of 2013.
Self Management -- applying flexibility, persistence, habit rehabilitation as I learn that caring for myself is the foundation for all else.
Evolution of the Workstations -- have made no major changes since early September so I think it's working

As you can see in the spreadsheet, I had a massive setback this month.  The last two check-ins of this round provide the explanation and the plan for recovery.


dat is a big bad wuntz
March 26 -- Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire. - Arab Proverb

I featured that Arab Proverb on the accompanying LOLcat with the witty kitty's take in Monday's post and then in Tuesday's post discussed how, thanks to my husband's time-management coaching, I've just experienced the truth of it in an object lesson:

If you haven't been following my ROW80 over the last year, you might wonder what this has to do with ROW80 writing goals.

And if you've read all of the last week's posts but were new to my story, you might wonder why a 50 something woman needs to have tasks assigned to her like a tweener.

Some women might even see my submitting to my husband's guidance as an offence to a modern woman's social position.

Well I'm going to answer those questions in tomorrow's post. (I Tried It My Way)  Or you can check out the Lifequake section below the check-in section for context.

The short answer is: I tried it my way since I left my parent's household at age 21.  It didn't work.

Tomorrow's post will describe my way and why I now think it would never work. And why I practically begged Ed to continue helping me like he did last spring and summer.

Meanwhile there have already been several small successes since we reinstated the coaching on Friday that are adding up to something more than the sum of their parts.  More on that tomorrow.

Have you figured out what all this has to do with ROW80 writing goals yet?

The short answer is that these things: time management, self care, and habit formation need to be in place to support the writing goals.

Especially when the challenges I face include: vision impairment, ADD, mood disorder, living in a chaotic household where 85 to 90 percent of the chaos is not under my control because it is not mine to control.

I'm going to be sharing this journey throughout the next round both in check-ins and other posts.  I have high hopes that by the time Round 3 begins the habits and routines to support my passion will be in place so that productivity will begin to soar.

Why do I pose more questions than answers here with the teasers about tomorrow's post?  Because most of the answers were composed right here as I wrote this check-in which was on its way to a mile long.  Besides most of what I was sharing I wanted to also share outside the ROW80 fence and didn't want to cover the same territory twice.

It's an extra bonus that I now have the hardest part of tomorrows post done--the first draft.  Yay!  Not only not behind I'm ahead!

but never give up
March 23 -- As you can see from the spreadsheet screenshot above, I've lost a lot of ground in the last couple of weeks.  I have worked on this post every check-in since the last one I successfully posted on March 9th but each time failed to get it ready before the next check-in was only a day away so I held off.  But then the spreadsheet scrreenshot had to be redone and the check-in section rewritten.  I finally just got rid of all of the commentary intended for check-ins that didn't happen and started fresh.

The gist all that I cut out was whining about the nose dive my mood took.  Deeper than in a long time.  All the way into the Marianas Trench of my psyche as I put it in one or more of the posts in the last two weeks.  It was demoralizing after the way things were looking up for the March 9th check-in.

I am not going to say much more about it here as I've already said it all in these three posts:

Get Up and Move In which I share a motivational video I found while on the prowl for aids to regain and optimize motivation, energy and optimism after having just been through another very rough patch with my mood disorder.  It also featured the LOLcat that accompanies this check-in which I made to reflect the theme of the video.  I thought the ROW80 crowd would really enjoy it.

Habits and Hypnosis  In which I share an hilarious animated GIF of a kitten being hypnotized by a shinny object on a string and relate my first experience of a successful hypnosis and it's fall out.

Report Card  In which I share an LOLcat of a stern bespectacled tabby that I made to reflect the theme of the post about the list of priorities my husband helped me make and then assess my performance over the last three months so that I could acknowledge where I stood in order to see clearly the path forward and submit to the necessary discipline.

This was how we kicked off the renewal of his coaching me (at my request) on management of time, self and projects that we  began last spring and dropped as the holiday season kicked into gear where he works last fall.

I had been keeping most things on this theme inside the check-in posts which were primarily looked at by a supportive community but I'm going to start putting it out there for the general public as well.  I hope for this to make my whole blog as honest and sincere and real as the ROW80 posts.

There will be fewer filler posts to hide behind whenever the primary thing on my mind is touching on these themes of self-management, mood-disorder, lifequake, dreams and goals.  Who knows, maybe it will end up being a story tracking the trajectory of my progress as many small triumphs accumulate into one big one as I reach one of my dream goals.

March 9 -- The spreadsheet and last night's post for which I made the LOLcat accompanying this check-in say pretty much everything on my mind:

  • Progress on the time investment goals show steady improvement on the spreadsheet.
  • I'm finding the new way of recording the approximate time investment instead of Y/N useful in many ways.  Not only does it show the ebb and flow in the midst of the steady progress
  • It shows relationships between sleep and exercise and productivity
  • And between AWAI (NF) and FICTION FILES
  • And is most helpful in my new attempts to give what I DID do equal if not more weight than what I FAILED to do

Yesterday's Friday Foray's in Fiction was an author quote on a LOLcat again.  The theme was improvisation which relates to the research and thinking and implementing of play back into the writing process that has been front and center for two weeks now.

The room project hit some snags:

  • I'd blocked access to some important boxes
  • Getting on and off the tramp had safety issues
  • The first sunny day in some time showed me the drawback of facing the window with it's bottom edge in view just over the top of the screen
  • The folding tray table that has been my laptop desk developed serious instability
  • I'd been unable to replace the space I took away from HABA* by removing those two boards laying across the three open drawers of the cabinet.
  • The new 20 drawer cart developed a serious wobble.  A 12 year old kid helped me put it together and I didn't check his work on the screws he tightened so I have to go back over all of them before I can start loading the drawers
I think I've solved all of these issues.  Was hoping to have pics for this post but they will have to wait.

In spite of all of those issues tho I have had a significant increase in productivity.

Now if all of this will only translate into more words on the screen or paper that are not for my eyes only: fiction scenes, book reviews, poems, essays, copywriting...

* HABA = Health and Beauty Aids

March 5 -- I just signed up for the March Camp NaNo.  Haven't yet settled on the project or the goals yet.  Camp Nano is similar to ROW80 but with a more playful attitude and fun stimulating activities to participate in that give it the flavor of summer camp.

The spreadsheet continues to record improvements across the board but I've not met or exceeded expectations in more than a handful of the time investment goals.  But the steady improvement is encouraging and I think switching from the Y/N to the specific estimated time invested for each one has played a role in that.

To do this I've had to start making the entry on the day of or at leas the day after which I had not thought I could do and still get a screenshot that showed the column titles.  Then I discovered the 'hide rows #-# command.  That makes it possible for me to create a month's worth of rows ready for the input and yet keep them out of the screenshots showing thru the date of the check-in.

My muscles everywhere are feeling the new exercise regime.  (see March 1 check-in below)  Have also begun feeling the 3rd-7th+ day weary, achy, sore skin thing that getting back on the tramp after a long hiatus brings on.  It feels much like coming down with a bug but I've learned that it is just the tramp's effect on the lymph system as it begins to draw the toxins out of the tissues and circulate them to the organs that cleanse them.

As tempting as it is to give it a break I know that is the absolute wrong thing to do.  I must work through it.  It can take up to ten days from the day the ichy feeling starts.  So hopefully by the 13th I'll have begun to feel the positive effects.

Maybe by the end of the month I'll be inputting word count for more than just the MISC column. :)

March 1 -- Notice the jump from under to over par in MOVE in the last couple of days.  This is thanks to a commitment I made to both my counselor and my husband: to get on the mini-tramp for 15 minutes immediately after the morning vid chat with Ed.  And like I suspected once on I'm unlikely to hop off in just 15 minutes.

Of course I tricked myself a bit by taking my Nexus 7 with me and playing Bejeweled Blitz.  Which I can only do because I am not in shape enough to do much more than sway back and forth.  It will take about a week of this to regain the muscle and the balance to start picking up my feet and another week or two after that before I can get too vigorous for playing games or reading ebooks while working out.  At that point I'll switch to music.

Meanwhile I continue to do the isometrics at my desk and have taken to wearing 1.5 to 3 lb weights on wrists and ankles most of the day.  I've also been doing arm swinging and squats by standing with my back against the wall and sliding down it until thighs are parallel to floor while waiting on the microwave to heat my tea water in the morning.

I'm expecting all of this to translate into productivity and creativity including work in FICTION FILES soon as it always has before.

I continue to have fun with the LOLcats in the spirit of bringing playfulness back to my writing.  I've long seen the LOLcats as a form of storytelling and by surrendering to the fun I get out of the wordplay coupled with the cuteness of the kittehs it's reawakening the pleasure associations with writing tasks.  I'm expecting that to cross fertilize my FICTION FILES soon.

The LOLcat with this entry is from my Friday Forays in Fiction post featuring an author quote.

I also captioned a picture of my cat's food bowl.  Silly fun.

And in the same spirit I wrote a mini story in a dialog to go with a picture I took of the kitchen garbage can.

This LOL fun payed off this week when the one for last Sunday's post was voted onto the front page of LOLcats at  That's the fifth or sixth time I've made a front page but sadly--to me anyway--none of my reading or writing related Lit Kits have yet done so.

February 26 -- I'm on duty with Mom M-W this week with a counselor appointment on Thursday so I don't have time to spend hours contemplating my goals and analyzing what's working and what's not as I've been doing for this entire month.  So I'll let the new spreadsheet layout speak for itself.  It will show progress in some areas and not so much in others.  What's new?

In the LOLcat accompanying this entry I give you a Ray Bradbury Quote and the poem I wrote in Kitteheze elaborating it.  Now in the spirit of the play recommended by Shan Jeniah Burton (as I discussed for last check-in) I'm hoping to make "Jump and build your wings on the way down" my mantra going forward.

February 23 -- Since I just got Wednesday's check-in posted there isn't much more to say about my progress so I'm going to talk about Shan Jeniah Burton's Monday pep talk on Row80 and it's impact .

Let me begin by thanking her for the wake-up-call as this is something I already knew but had, in the attempts to wrangle the chaos my life had become a year ago back into a bare minimum of order, lost sight of.  (see the Lifequake section below)

I know from repeated experience that without the sense of play you loose the passion and the work becomes drudgery which you resist and the output is unpalatable, lifeless and dull.

So I'm going to take this latest lesson to heart and bring back the play. Beginning with loosing the embarrassment about my goofing around on

Most of what I do there is creating LOLs relevant to my intended post and more often than not those are about reading or writing.  I call them Lit Kits.  LOL making is by nature a playful activity and much of what I do is word play from puns to poetry to pushing the boundaries on concepts.  And that's true even if the theme isn't strictly literary.

It should have been a big clue that what I was doing was not frivolous by the time I'd composed the third off the cuff poem on a LOL.

The LOL accompanying this check-in is  the one I created for yesterday's Friday Forays in Fiction which was an author quote.  The quote was from Marina Warner author of Stranger Magic which I just got out of the library again.  It is an exploration of the influence of the Arabian Nights on Western Civilization culture and how the west's enthusiasm for it changed the perception of the cultures of the originators of the tales--Middle East and India primarily. The quote is actually from another of her books.

Warner is a professor whose specialty is in fairy tales, folk lore, legend and myth which is one of my favorite type stories and favorite subject since I discovered Joseph Campbell in the 80s and learned that story is not simply frivolity.  Stories are teaching tools that use the power of playfulness to get their lesson past the biases of your mental censor where they can work on your subconscious.

This is something that all storytellers should take to heart whether they write primarily fiction stories or no as all writing with a beating heart is playful.

So thanks again Shan Jeniah Burton.  I accept your challenge.  Let's play.

February 19 -- I missed the last two check-ins.  I did try.  I started work on this entry for the 12th, switched the date to the 15th and now to the 19th but I'm still working on it on Friday--a day before the linky goes up for the 23rd's check-in.  The room project, (see pic to right and link below it) post commitments, vid chats and being on duty with Mom every day but one last week and feeling unwell this week made it hard to find time to reassess my goals and revamp the spreadsheet accordingly which I thought needed to be the next step seeing how we're already nearly two months into the round.

You'll see in the spreadsheet screenshot above that I've added new columns, renamed others, and rearranged their order to loosely reflect the order in which the activity is tended to. And I've increased the time investment minimum for each goal from 15 to 30+ minutes per day.  But in many, if not most, cases that is an average reflecting the intent to total 3hrs for the week   This gives me the option to skip a day for any I choose and if I designate Sunday as skip day for enough of them I will have a large block of time to devote to one of the goals or other projects or pastimes entirely.  With the idea being that Sunday is for whatever activity is drawing me whether a ROW80 GOAL or no.

I'll just list the columns here in order noting with each the exact expectation and how it differs from before if it does.

SLEEP 7.5+ = NEW  The goal is to get 7.5 hours or more per night consistently.  This has been a struggle all my life so I'm not expecting perfection but I hope to reach a better than 50% average success by the end of Round 1.

Why designate SLEEP as a ROW80 goal?  Because I've discovered that sleep deprivation is lethal to creativity, mental acuity, concentration, focus and optimism, confidence and accuracy.  All of which are necessary for success as a writer.

MOVE 30M+ = I'm no longer the limp rag I was when I first set the MOVE goal in 2012 so I need to expect more of myself:

  • 30 minutes per day up from 15 is what I settled on.  
  • Also now that I'm so much stronger (think of all that was entailed in the big room project!) its time to stop giving credit for normal daily activities--unless I'm wearing weights on both wrists and both ankles.  Otherwise it needs to be a sustained activity of the kind that comes to mind with the word exercise.   
  • It includes both aerobic and muscle building.  
  • Until the weather improves that means the mini-tramp for aerobic and isometric, stretchy bands, wearing weighted bands on wrists and ankles and book lifting for arm muscle building and squat walking on the tramp for leg muscle building.  
  • I also will expect myself to do two sustained 30 minute tramp sessions per week in which 10 minutes between warm up and cool down must rise to the level of vigorous.

FREE WRITE = Includes: misc writing exercises, journaling, Morning Pages, themed word lists, word association, stream of consciousness. speed dash, and xstreamwrite, an exercise I created that combines speed dash with one or more of the previous three.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

DAYDREAM STORY = with note taker at hand.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

FICTION FILES = see FICTION FILES section below for detailed list of tasks.  Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

AWAI = AWAI Copywriting course work: reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking. Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

BOOK REVIEWS = NEW  So new I've not started keeping records.  Tho for this one I've not been doing much outside of the blog tours so there is a huge backlog of finished books--ARC, borrowed, owned--that I've yet to review.  Tho the Daily minimum is set at 30m I'm actually intending to do 60m three time a week or 90m twice a week. The idea being to have enough time to finish the review I begin each time.

RESEARCH = NEW  So new I've not kept track but this is actually something I need to set boundaries on as I can easily spend the whole day researching.  I'm thinking 3hr min and 5hr max per week.  And not necessarily daily.  I'd rather do bigger chunks on fewer days than be restricted to 30min sessions daily.

READ CRAFT = Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

READ FICTION = Daily minimum up from 15m to 30m.

The last four columns are word count separated by type.  For anything that gets spruced up for posting, or publishing I count the rough draft words which tend to be more than double the final draft:

AWAI WORDS = NEW  copywriting exercises and spec copy for potential clients.  Soon there will be the web copy I write for my own freelance copywriting site.

BKRV WORDS = self explanatory and I've been keeping track for several months out of curiosity.

FIC/WRIMO WORDS = I've retitled the column so that I can start tracking fiction words even between the wrimo events

MISC WORDS = NEW  Includes journaling and the others listed in FREEWRITE as well as blogging, emails, poems, and the notes in FICTION FILES that aren't fiction.

Just About
February 8 -- My main focus continues to be this room.  My creativity and brainwork wordstation is just about right.  I've already made a few minor tweaks since that pic was taken and am about to make a fairly major one that involves moving the tramp out of the cubby as try as I might I can't have a good workstation configuration and keep the tramp accessible.  I really like the concept I have in mind but will save the description for the after picture.

Nexus 7 in Keyboard Case
more pics
The latest development that will change the parameters of my writing life rather significantly I think is the addition of my Nexus 7 with keyboard case on Tuesday.  For starters it will make the READ CRAFT and READ FICTION time investment goals easier by giving me back the portability of my ebooks lost when my netbook became unavailable.

The Blaze smartphone had done so to some extent but the small screen coupled with my need for large fonts was a frustrating combo.  There will be more room to keep as large an ebook library as I could hope to manage on the Nexus as well.  Space was limited on the Blaze.

The portability will also contribute to the MOVE goal by making it easier to have music, pods, audio books or video available while on the tramp--even if I took it out on the porch this spring.

As for the writing itself, again portability!  From room to room to out and about--bed, waiting on downloads on the Aspire, car travel, waiting in the car, the library, waiting rooms, the yard, the lake, the park, the porch...

It was for the writing and what I find essential for smooth flow of words from mind to screen that I made the Bluetooth keyboard a part of the original purchase instead of saving it for later.

As for the lifequake:  mood is fairly stabilized as long as I respect the med and sleep regime, no news on the separation front (I've been here a year and a month now and last time Ed and I saw each other without benefit of vid chat will be 9 months on the 11th).

As for self management:  I've gotten quite slack.  Messed up my mood big time in the last month by pulling too many all nighters and short nights.  Missed meds several times.

I think this last wake-up call might have scared me straight. I had a low-grade chronic headache for days.  I stopped making long term memories or at least not dependably.  I grumbled and growled and snapped at Merlin.  I grumbled and growled and yelled at myself and inanimate objects.  Especially over the many silly mistakes--and there were many, maybe triple a typical day.  I had to read paragraphs over and over and couldn't remember the first sentence by the time I got to the last.  My vision went wonky--splashes of kaleidoscopic color overlaid everything and the edges of thing wobbled and pulled out of shape like taffy.  And creativity?  What's that?

I'm thinking about putting SLEEP on the spreadsheet making it a ROW80 GOAL.  The time investment goal being a minimum of 7.5 hours per night.  Getting that bare minimum regularly has proven essential to brainwork--creativity, memory, focus.  Essential as well to maintaining a stable mood--lower irritability, confusion, fog-head, anxiety, frustration, self-deprecation and pessimism.

I'm thinking about doing the same for MOVE which is equally relevant to the same list, helps acquire better sleep, lowers blood pressure and boosts creativity and problem solving.  And for both of them I need to bag the Y/N and record the actual time invested.

February 2 -- I am really late jumping into this round.  But although I'm just now declaring my intentions, I continued to act as if throughout January, maintaining the time investment goals from round 4 2013.  I was just too busy to prep the first post which entailed taking the old check-in template back to bare bones and revising it according to intentions for this round.

The Big Room Project that occupied most of my time and attention since Christmas, was mostly in honor of ROW80.  I was tired of the half measures.  Tired of shifting stuff from here to there and back again.  Tired of the dust that made my eyes and nose itch and drip.  Tired of never being able to put my hand on the thing I needed when I needed it.  Tired of spending so much of the time I should be investing in writing and its support tasks on rearranging and reorganizing my workspace.

So when my sister was scheduled to have oral surgery on the 13th and planned to spend the next ten days at her best friend's house getting pampered and so arranged for Mom to spend that time at our brother's, I planned a major overhaul of this room.  A spring clean.  I took just about everything that I could move without help out, swept the carpet and then vacuumed it, dusted from ceiling to floor, eliminated boxes by consolidating partially filled boxes and nesting empty boxes and taking them to my sort station in the basement. I found and treated a large mildew stain under the cubby desk.  A likely culprit along with the dust for causing the itchy eyes and nose.

Many posts since New Years were about the project:  Many of them mostly photo essays.
Makez Up Ur Mindz Already!!! -- about beginning the first foiled attempt to start the room redo
Stuck With It -- pics of the bad ending of my first attempt to start the project
Nostalgia Nudges -- pics of some knickknacks I remember dusting once upon a time
The Big Room Project -- pics of the taking apart part
Mildew Moratorium --  pics of the mildew before, during and after treating
Sunday Serenity #371 -- pics of two antiques
Easy-Peasey -- assembling the Ott Tattoo lamp I got for Christmas
Not Quite Right -- a very temp workstation to use while putting room back together
Assembling the Puzzle -- bringing stuff back in
Workstation WOW -- workable for now (until order arrives)
Boxed Up Bushels of Desiccated Passions 
Sunday Serenity #372 -- pic of a couple of Mom's college era paintings

Mom left on Friday the 10th and Carri on Sunday night.  Silly me thought I would be able to get this done the first weekend and have the whole week following for the many other things I can't do when Mom and Carri are home.  Writing, Reading, crocheting, playing computer games, watching video or listening to music to my heart's content without interruption.  Let's not forget sleep.

Down in the Mouth
Carri January 14th
Not only did I not finish by Sunday night,  I did not finish by the next Sunday night which would have been a big problem if Mom and Carri had returned as planned.  Carri wasn't ready to step back into her position so I had, as it turned out, until the end of the following weekend.  Carri got home late Friday the 24th and Mom late Sunday the 27th and I was still scrambling to clear off Mom's side of the bed and the floor beside it as Carri left to pick her up.

On the 18th as soon as I had created the room for them I made a order.  The three boxes arrived Monday afternoon but I had a number of commitments last week that left me no time to deal with them so they hogged much of the extra room I'd created by the new room do.  The contents of two of the boxes are featured in the image heading this check-in entry.  Which makes this post a time-warp as I didn't get that cart assembled until nearly midnight Sunday night--Feb 5th.

Since I was still working on this post (have been since Wednesday hoping to make that check-in) when it was time to start prepping Sunday's post, I allowed myself to break open the two smaller boxes and assemble the contents of the middle-sized box (a five hour project) so I could get pictures for Sunday's post which I'll start prepping as soon as this one goes up.

That pic was intended to showcase the OED 2nd Edition on CD-ROM and the Britannica 2009 on CD-ROM which arrived Saturday morning.  These I consider major writer's reference.


My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
  • work at cleaning up the Wrimo messes
  • get Blow Me a Candy Kiss prepped for self pub
  • target a second finished short story for the self publish route: How Does Your Garden Grow?
  • work on cleaning up the WhizFolder for the NaNo Novel, Wailing Womb [task list similar to that for FOS Storyworld below]
  • work on the FOS storyworld:
  •  -- add notes from DAYDREAM STORYWORLD notebook to FOS Worksheet WhizFolder as well as the specific story's Whiz
  •  -- add events to timeline
  •  -- add character sketches, rambles, and metadata
  •  -- move or copy metadata from each story's Whiz into the FOS Worksheet Whiz
  •  -- add to FOS mind map in Xmind
  •  -- clean up notes, research, reference, links, etc in each story's Whiz, adding any relevant to multiple stories to FOS Worksheet Whiz
  •  -- clarify specific research needs
  •  -- edit existing scenes and add new
  •  -- target one of the POV character's stories to focus on  [When Home Is Where the Horror Is AKA Crystal's story]
  •  -- break out Aeon Timeline and start inputting info from the text timeline
  •  -- breakout Smart Draw and experiment with creating story boards and plot flow charts
  • AWAI Copywriting course work: working the course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking.
  • keep on top of the upcoming blog tour reviews
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for ARCs 
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for books owned and borrowed books finished 2012-2013
  • tackle the backlog of book reviews for finished ROW80 READ CRAFT books


Currently Reading

[For Round 1 2014 I've removed all but five of the books in this ever growing list. I may not totally abandon the others but I'm targeting the five in this list for focus until finished.  As a book comes off I'll add another.]

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack   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
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.
AWAI Copywriting Course materials

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  Finished this fall of 2012 and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where Igot 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.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire.  A tiny little paperback published in the mid 70s.  I pulled this off my own shelf, having found it while packing/unpacking my books.  Don't remember how it became mine.
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published) 


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 in It's Like This and The Eyes Have It 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.

Between the last week of February and the first week of May 2013 my sister and I made several round trips to my place in Phoenix to pack up my stuff and bring it back to Longview.  It was supposed to be only the first load for my books, crafts and summer clothes but in March our landlord decided he needed to sell the trailer and set May 15 as our move-by date.  So I made two more trips and my sister made a forth the first week in May, leaving me behind while she took a load back and returning for the forth load.

Merlin, our cat, came back with me in May.  During our 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.  He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick winter of 2012-1013.

As 2014 Round 1 begins we're pushing 8 months since leaving Phoenix with the last load by February 11 it will be 9 months.  There has been no further visits.  He's living with his folks in the same tiny room we shared for ten years but we both agreed that environment would be unhealthy for me and our relationship.  So we're waiting for him to find a place before I come back for a visit bringing a van load of household miscellany and Merlin.

Before I can go home for good my meds need to be stabilized and healthcare assured.  I have to be separated from Ed in order to qualify for health care.  So much for those wascally wabbits and their so-called concern for the sanctity of marriage.

Meanwhile we make do with phone calls, text chats, emails and one or two vid chats each day.


A significant development in self-management was 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.

In December I transferred all my task alarms to my smartphone, a birthday present from Ed in November, and no longer use this timer except for one off tasks.

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 since August.  I have gained more ground each month.  Adding minor and major commitments to self and family.  I've just [Feb 3 2014] taken on care of one of the two litter boxes.  I've been on duty with Mom from lunch to bedtime most Tuesdays since fall and oven fix dinner at least one other time during the week.  Significantly, except for Tuesday, most evening dinner preps are sprung on me in the one to four hours before time to start which would have flummoxed me into paralysis a year ago.

One of the fallouts from the stabilized sleep schedule has been an increase in those intense, creative, colorful and story-like dreams that have often contributed to what I call the storyseeds for my fiction.  This augers well for the future work with my fiction files--both editing and new writing.  And is a sign the depression is lifting or at least being managed well.

The early-bird schedule I switched to last August specifies the pre-lunch hours for brain work--reading, writing, blogging, research, netbook maintenance, daydreaming story world and the afternoon for active/social tasks like exercise, sorting/organizing, chores, hygiene, family interaction, vid or text chats with Ed.  But so far I've nearly always gravitated back to the brainwork after lunch and once engaged in a task it is hard to break away for another.  So many things get neglected.  Which often leads to fudging on sleep... Slippery slope.

My Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus
w/ high lux light and air ionizer
The two most significant things that contributed to the healthier sleep patterns were the melatonin I began using in late summer and the the full spectrum light therapy lamp I bought during the Cyber Monday sales.  This gives me hope that I won't have to be on the meds forever.  There are still several more things I can add to my Natural Remedies bag.  Like maintaining consistency in the sleep schedule (still pulling too many 20 to 30 hour days and too many under 7.5 hour sleeps) exercise, meditation weight loss, water intake, detoxing from sugar and food additives and diet changes for starters.  Except for the sleep schedule most of these I've been dabbling at in the last six months but I need to be committed and consistent with those things I've experienced as helping. 

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:

Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
January 2013
Late January 2013
Tramp set on end after
2 falls and a close call

March 2013
Making room for 1st van load

Reference Books
The 1999 World Book set
and the Britannica Great Books set
bought from the library in 2005
And writing related misc.

Looks more like a nest
Primary work and play and mope
station May 11-24 2013

Cubby desk May 25 2013
replace exercise ball
with office chair

June 2013
Almost good but hard
to get in and out and no room
to scoot or swivel chair

April-August 2013
Standing desk above tramp
Good for writing, reading ebooks,
text and vid chat, videos and music
All while getting a gentle workout
Or vigorous with videos and music. 

Bradley Desk Inspector
Major August 2013 Makeover
Cleared Mom's Desk
Finally room to spread
out books and paper

In late August it finally came together: a workable workstation.  The story and pics about it are in these Sunday'sMonday's and Tuesday's posts.  My productivity ratio increased from 1 in 5 days to 1 in 2 or better.  But a couple weeks after setting this up I got my Aspire and being significantly larger than the netbook it didn't work well in this setup and major tweaking commenced.

I keep meaning to add pics of the most significant tweaks to accommodate the Aspire and now there is the January 2014 whole room makeover pics to add.  But not this time.

The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearranged 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.

Merlin nesting with me
Merlin had to stay locked in the laundry room for nearly three months until we were sure he was free of contagion or parasites.

My hope that once Merlin was allowed to join the family the two of them would entertain each other came true.  After a few weeks of talking to each other through the laundry room door they had a brief encounter when I brought Merlin up on his leash on our way out for his yard exploration they  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.

A couple weeks after that Merlin was paroled and they've acted buddies ever since with Bradley obsessed with grooming Merlin who had been lax with that due to his poor health.  They do occasionally fight over the spots of sun on the living room carpet.

But for over a week after Merlin got paroled I hung out on the tramp again so he could hang out with me.


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