Finished the Book!

It was thisclose, and I got it done! Now I am doing a read-through before sending it to my editor. More later in this post…

In Tennessee, things continue to escalate with the proposed new business, and our neighbors are meeting as I write this to strategize about some public meetings coming up. One of our neighbors rented a high-quality drone and took aerial photos of the grading, clearing, modification of a stream, and other environmental damages the owner has already done, all without permits. Unfortunately, from what I hear the typical MO in that area is to grade/clear/build first and ask forgiveness later. But while getting photos of the property in question, our neighbor also took some very cool pictures of our house.

He also took some video, and we could see the guys installing siding on the side of the house where the breezeway is. Cool! All the windows are in except for the trapezoids on top, and all the doors are in except for the front. They have been finishing up the siding and building the breezeway this past week. And no, our driveway is not as crazy-steep as it looks in the photo on the right. It’s steep, but not that bad!

What I’ve Been Reading: I not only finished writing my current book, but I also finished reading two books. For fiction, I read an anthology of short stories: Fiction River: Hard Choices, edited by Dean Wesley Smith. There were three of the twenty stories I skipped that just weren’t to my liking, one of which was in present tense (which I hate). Interestingly enough, there were two other present tense stories in the anthology, but they were so well-written it didn’t bother me enough to skip them! And two of the stories I didn’t like were in past. Just goes to show these things are always a matter of taste.

In nonfiction, I finished a book I bought and started probably three months ago, Find Your Focus Zone, by Lucy J. Palladino. I’m not sure why this book took me so long to read, unless it was because I mostly read it on the treadmill, and I split that time up by also watching workshop videos. It gave a lot of interesting psychological background on why we have trouble staying on task, and offered some techniques to deal with it. It was published in 2007 so was outdated. Most noticeable was the absence of any discussion on social media, but the techniques and background in the book about email and web surfing apply to that just fine. I’m not sure how much use I’ll get out of it, but it was worth a read.

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What I’ve Been Writing: My goal this week was to write 5,000 words or finish the book. I met that goal! It only took about 2,000 words to finish the book, and thank goodness, as that thing clocked in at 155,000 words! My next longest book, Time’s Fugitive, is 143,000 words. So yes, I have some cutting to do. I also had all kinds of other writing-related stuff I wanted to work on this week, and none of that got done, mostly because I’ve been too wrapped up in Tennessee drama, and I’m watching Facebook like it’s a train wreck. Social media is normally not a problem for me because I just don’t get on it, but I need to keep up with this and contribute in any way I can from 300 miles away.

Anyway, back to writing: my goals for this week are to finish the read-through, and to send out a newsletter. I keep putting off the latter, and I need to get on it. I have TONS of books that I don’t want to move, and who better to give them to than my readers?

How about you–any cool surprises in your life recently? Any surprises at all? Have you read any good books lately? How are you doing with whatever goals you might be working on, writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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

 

Mostly Writing

This has been a relatively uneventful week, at least for me. Things are still happening in Tennessee: no new pictures, but the builder tells us that the windows are now in the house, except for the custom shapes. Siding has gone up (though I don’t know if it’s finished), and work continues on HVAC and electrical. I also got a call from the kitchen cabinet vendor, and saw the specific brand and style of cabinets he recommended, which were just what we wanted (at least until we see the price, then we’ll know for sure!). Work continues regarding the commercial development across the street, too, mostly in the form of emails to government officials, in brainstorming other ways to stop or at least downsize it, and in efforts to meet with the landowner for more discussion. The neighbors are meeting later this afternoon, and I will call in.

On the current home front, the Pit of Doom is no more. I mean, it’s still there, it’s just not a Pit of Doom anymore. It’s just a regular little room–it could even be a safe room. It now has a proper floor thanks to a helpful neighbor, some mini-mix concrete, and my husband’s ingenuity in rigging up a drainage pipe chute, held in place with an engine hoist. Mr. Goodwrench is a good guy to have around!

It’s been nasty cold here in southwest Ohio, and I’ve hunkered down and focused on my writing. More on that below.

What I’ve Been Reading: Since it’s too cold to walk outside, I’ve been using the treadmill and reading nonfiction, though I have not yet finished that book. I did finally finish the novel. It took so long partly because it’s a long book, but mostly because I had so much else going on that I could only read a chapter–sometimes only a scene–each night. That book is My Name is A’yen, by Rachel Leigh Smith, and I enjoyed it a lot. I will admit it took me a little time to really get into this book, but that’s been true of some of my favorites, like Patty Jansen’s Icefire series. Ms. Smith markets her work as being mostly focused on the hero, and it definitely was, but it did not give the heroine short-shift as I feared it might. Despite getting less focus, she was still a well-developed, sympathetic character who experienced growth. But the best thing about this science-fiction romance was probably the world-building. The setting was 3,000-some years in the future, and while some of the minor characters were from Earth, it was set in space and on other worlds. The cultures were very well-developed, but it was done in a manner where everything wasn’t handed to the reader early on. Instead, the writing stayed in close point-of-view where if a character wouldn’t naturally think about what a particular phrase means, the reader doesn’t get that information until it fits into context. It threw me a bit at first, but was fine once I decided to roll with it. I enjoyed this book, and plan to pick up the next in the series. Recommended for those who enjoy sci-fi romance!

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What I’ve Been Writing: My goal this week was to write at least 1,000 words a day, five days–a pace I haven’t hit in several years. I made it, with 5,371 words! Even better, my WIP is thisclose to being finished–definitely within 5,000 words. So for this week, I plan to write 1,000 words a day, five days, or until the WIP is finished. If I finish early, I will plan to spend that time skimming back over the book, because I know there’s some sloppy writing near the beginning. I also need to start working on a revamp of this website, get a newsletter out, and do numerous other publishing tasks I’ve been putting off. So my plan is also to spend at least five hours on my writing or related tasks–finish the WIP, and use the remaining time on something noted above.

How has your week been? How’s the weather like where you are? Have you read any good books lately? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have, writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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

What Will the Neighbors Think?

A lot of worries about my new house flit through my mind with fair regularity. I mean other than the proposed commercial development across the street, or the typical budget concerns that go with any new construction project.

I swear, it isn’t as big as it looks!

I never realized until it actually went up, how visible our house would be from the street–or how big it would look. In the summer, it should be mostly hidden by trees, but not now, with the leaves down. No worries about how it looks, and it is far enough off the street to still afford a decent amount of privacy, but still. Most of the comments from the neighbors we spoke to throughout the last week, when the realized that was ours, were on the lines of “wow!” and “it’s going to be beautiful.” Well, yes, I hope so. The word “castle” also came up several times (thank you, turreted porch roof). Many were under the impression that it was a three-story chalet, rather than a one-story house with cathedral ceilings and a walkout basement.

In some neighborhoods, that wouldn’t be a problem, and this house would fit in well. But this neighborhood is a typical, old rural neighborhood of mostly smaller houses. Many are under 1000 sq. ft.; ours is about 2000 sq. ft., not including the lower level, which will initially be unfinished.

There are few houses that size in the area, and those there are, are even less visible, and on small side streets. Thing is, out in the country down there, it’s not unusual to see a house larger than ours right next door to a battered, rusted-out single wide. So yes, this sort of thing is done in the overall general area.

So what’s my worry? It’s that people will think we’re snooty and pretentious. But anyone who knows us should know that’s the last thing we are.

We’re building that house because it’s beautiful and we love it–and it fits with the spectacular views we have from where it sits. We have zero interest in impressing anyone else. But somehow, putting a little ranch house atop that hill didn’t feel right. The house we chose, and the image of wealth it might convey to some people, doesn’t make us any better than anyone who lives around it. (It might make us stupider, for spending that kind of money LOL.) The only way in which we’re above anyone is in very literal terms, as in, feet above sea level. And only by a little, at that.

If one good thing has come from the proposed business across the street, it’s that we’ve had the opportunity to meet several of our neighbors much sooner than we otherwise might. Or in some cases, at all–after all, the houses are fairly far apart, and one of the reasons people move there (including us) is because they don’t want to be up in their neighbors’ faces all the time. Hopefully enough of them now know that we’re unpretentious, down-to-earth folks just like them, fancy house or no.

Construction Update: They were working on roofing, and had started on the exterior trim last week while we were there. I haven’t received any new photos this week, but got questions from the builder about siding and electrical, so I imagine work has begun in those areas.

Pit of Doom Update: DH has added French drain and connected it to the existing drainage system with help from a rented jackhammer. He then took out a vent and shoveled pea gravel in. We have a neighbor who is a concrete contractor (handy, huh?) and who has offered to help with pouring the floor. We’re expecting that on Tuesday. All told, we should get out from under this fix for less than $1000, which is truly something to celebrate!

What I’ve Been Reading: Still haven’t finished the novel, but I expect to tonight, so I’ll write about it here next week.

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What I’ve Been Writing: My goal was to write at least 750 words/day, for at least five days, which would give me a total of 3750. I met that, with a total of 3900 words! I made a decision to bring more characters into my climactic scene, and the writing is going much better now, so that was clearly the right decision. This week, I’m going to try bumping up to 1000 words/day for five days. That will hopefully finish this WIP. If it does, I want to go right into the next one, which I know very little about other than the characters and some big-picture things that will happen. So that’s kind of scary to a reformed, former outliner like me. We’ll see how that goes!

What about you–any little worries in your life lately? (Or big ones, though I hope not?) Have you ever done something very visible that’s outside the norm for your area? And how are you doing with whatever goals you might have, writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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

A Roller Coaster Week

We wound up going to Tennessee last week, and wow, what a roller coaster! My husband and I are real estate investors, and the day before we left, an apartment building came on the market that was just what we’ve been looking for. It was located in a great neighborhood and made fantastic money. We drove straight there when we arrived in Knoxville, and met up with our commercial Realtor. The building met our expectations. Retirement, here I come!

Except that it wasn’t to be. We have a building here in Ohio under sale contract right now, and need to close on it before we can complete a purchase. The next day, we were outbid by someone who not only offered more money, but did not have a sale contingency. Disappointing, but we figure it was not the right property for us after all.

But even bigger news came to me in an email last week. There is an 18-acre parcel across the street from our house that was being cleared when we were looking to buy. Wondering what they planned to do, we looked up who owned it. They lived just a street over, so we went to talk to them.

The owner’s wife was one of the nicest people you could meet, and told us they planned to donate the land to the city for a park. So with that assurance, we bought our property.

But last week, the owner’s wife emailed us and told us he’s now planning to develop it for a commercial purpose, and offered to meet with us. We’re trying to keep an open mind, but let’s just say we’re not thrilled, to say the least.

Neither are any of the other neighbors. Our next-door neighbor who’s been taking pictures for us rounded up a bunch, and we met to discuss it. The property is currently zoned low-density residential, and he would need to get it changed to commercial. The neighbors hope they can prevent that.

We met with the owner and his wife the next day. A consummate businessman, he projected nothing but confidence, and did all he could to assure us it wouldn’t be bothersome. While he presented it as a done deal, it’s actually not. After our meeting, we felt a little better on some aspects of the project, but not on others, and the more we think and talk about it, the less we like it. The owner is very well-connected and influential, so I can see the zoning request going either way. Major wait and see!

The house, OTOH, is coming along nicely. Roofers were working when we arrived, and we also spoke to the plumbers and HVAC contractor.

We saw this when we came up the driveway, then swung around:

   

Inside, looking out the back of the house, and toward the front:

   

The front left corner with no windows is where the kitchen will go.

This will be my writing (and day job work) office:

That window on the side wall is wrong – it’s supposed to be shorter, like the one beside the patio door, because there will be built-ins along that whole wall. The builder assured us it would be fixed, along with a bathroom window that has the same issue.

This is the deck off our bedroom:

It really does not do the view justice AT ALL. Those mountains appear much closer, more like this:

Even that does not do it justice.

 

What I’ve Been Reading: Still working on the same novel. It’s good, but it’s long — and with all that’s been going on this last week, I’m doing well to get in a chapter before bed. In nonfiction, I’ve been focusing on a Dean Wesley Smith workshop: The Future – Refresh and Renew.

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What I’ve Been Writing: I’m considering this week one of those where I “fail to success.” Meaning, I did not meet my goal, but in trying, I got more written than I otherwise would. My goal was to write at least 750 words/day, for five days, for a total of 3750 words. I ended up getting four days in for a total of 2677. I had two things working against my goal: the trip to TN, during which there was only one day where I had any time to write whatsoever, we were in so many meetings and seeing so many people. All good, just not for the writing. The other issue is that I’m coming up to the climactic scene, which is always the hardest to write (and therefore, goes slower).

So for this week, I’m going to shoot for the same thing: 750 words/day, for five days a week. I don’t think there’s a lot going on this week, so it’s much more attainable than it would have been last week.

What about you–had any excitement lately? Hopefully no rude awakenings like mine! And how have you been doing with whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I love to hear from you!

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

The Pit of Doom in My House

No, not the new house! The one where I live now. Last week, my husband decided to get started on the myriad little fixes it would need in preparation to be sold.

As they say on those HGTV shows, we found some “unexpected issues.”

You’d think we know this house inside and out after living here for 25 years. But even then, there are surprises.

This house was a Cape Cod when we bought it (we added a second floor that turned it into a Colonial). It appeared to have a converted breezeway connecting the garage and house. Except the breezeway never was; it’s our dining room. And there’s a little room beneath it off to the side of our basement.

The Pit of Doom, after all the rotted floor was removed

I imagine this was originally intended to be a canned goods cellar or something like that, or maybe a safe room. When we moved here, we found an excessive number of outlets, plus some odd ventilation pipes, that led us to believe it also served as a pot grow room at one time, LOL. My husband figured it would be the perfect place to store his gun collection, as it had a sealed door and would be easy to dehumidify.

So that’s what he did. Over the past few years, we noticed the floor was getting… shall we say, squishy. My husband theorized that the floor had just been thrown down over a dirt floor. So to begin his fixes, he pulled that up.

And found he was right. All the floor was, was plywood tossed over some stacked bricks. What he didn’t expect was that it was full of water. That had allowed the bricks to sink and rotted out the plywood floor beneath the vinyl, hence the squishiness. And hence, the pit of doom. The only reason it’s not a massive ball of mold is because of his dehumidifier, which ran pretty much 24×7, and now we know why.

So DH’s first project will be much bigger than expected. He consulted with a couple of friends in the construction business, as well as the restoration contractors we used for our flip house (who assured us that thanks to the dehumidifier, there was no mold). He then tore all the floor out of the pit of doom (or “the swamp,” as he calls it), and is going to add a French drain to hook into what we already have, then add pea gravel and finally, a proper concrete floor.

Meanwhile, down in Tennessee, things are moving along with our new house. Our builder sent us pics last week, and it’s beginning to really take shape:

   

What I’ve Been Reading: I haven’t finished anything this week. I’m enjoying the novel I’m reading right now, but it’s a really long one, so it will be a week or two before I finish. And instead of reading nonfiction, I’m taking a WMG workshop. This one is called “The Future: Refresh and Renew.” and deals with planning for a long-term career in fiction writing. So far it’s really good!

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What I’ve Been Writing: My goal this past week was to write 500 words/day, for five days, double what I’d been doing. I met my goal, with 2,875 words! Next week is going to be tricky. I’m shooting for 750 words/day, working toward 1,000 that I’ll need to meet my overarching goals of finishing two novels this year.

How has your new year started out? Any surprises, pleasant or otherwise? What are your goals for 2019, if you set them? And how are you doing with whatever goals you might have, writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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

2019 Goals

It’s late as I write this, because I had a usual Sunday of stuff to do around the house, then trying to get back into the habit of cooking healthy dinners, and then–who knew?–writing! So I’m blogging late, but got my writing in, so that’s a win. And I just checked out the ROW80 Blog and saw that the Round starts tomorrow (Monday), not next week like I thought. Luckily, I’ve been thinking about goals these past few days, so I was prepared.

But first, how about an update from Tennessee? I hope these aren’t boring folks too much, but really, I’m documenting the build for myself as much as to share. We got an unexpected, additional Christmas gift this year when our neighbor sent us some new pictures–apparently, there are a bunch of carpenters in Knoxville who wanted to earn some extra Christmas money, because they totally kicked some butt on Christmas Eve!

I like the top two pictures because they’re finally starting to look more like the size the house will be (about 2000 sq. ft.), rather than ridiculously huge(for us) . Then there’s the view out the back of the house, and oh, how about a cute dog pic, because it’s been too long since I’ve had one on here?

   

   

   

What I’ve Been Reading: Cleon Moon, by Lindsay Buroker, the fifth in her Fallen Empire series. I’m really enjoying these, and am glad there are three more to go, plus what looks like a second, spinoff series. No link today because I’m lazy and I need to get this post done.

What I’ve Been Writing: I figured out and fixed the logistical inconsistency I found last week, plus added another fifteen hundred words. Five hundred of those were last night, as I decided it’s time to up my game and get this book done.

Which brings me to my 2019 goals.

This is pretty ambitious, and I feel crazy for even attempting this, with the move and all. Maybe I’ve been watching too many videos from Dean Wesley Smith, but hey, writing’s getting to be fun again, and now that the craziness of the holidays is over, I think I can do this: I’m going to finish this WIP, which only has 5-10,000 words to go. And I’m going to finish the next book in the series this year. Which doesn’t sound like such a big deal, except I write looooooooonnnnnng books. As in, 140,000-words long. Also, packing, moving, getting settled in a new state and all that goes along with it.

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Click the emblem to visit the ROW80 blog, and find out what it’s all about – you’re welcome to join us!

So yeah, kind of crazy. But doable, maybe! Because here’s the thing. When I make it a point to do the writing regularly, I can write 1,000 words an hour without too much problem. That comes out to 5,000 words/week, allowing for two days off.

And I only have to do it thirty weeks this year to hit that. Even if I don’t hit it, I’m likely to get a lot more done than I otherwise would (what Smith calls “failing to success” – I love that!). I’ve done a good job (if I say so myself) getting back into a habit of writing through the months of November and December, so now I just have to keep it up. The catch will be to devote an hour to it a day, rather than the 15 minutes or so I’ve been doing.

There will be weeks around the move where I’ll do well to get 1,000 words in for the whole week, but I’m going to try doing just that, keeping it a habit even during the busy times.

For this Round (through March 20th), I want to finish this book, and get another 40,000-45,000 words in on the next (depending on how much it takes to finish this one), for a total of 50,000 words.

For this week: Since I’ve been going slowly for the past month due to the holidays, I’m still ramping up. This week, I want to get a total of 2,500 words, or 500 words a day for five days. I already got today’s 500 in, and did 500 yesterday too, and it wasn’t difficult. So far, so good, but we’ll have to see how that goes when I go back to work.

What about you–how was your holiday? Got any exciting plans for New Year’s Eve? (I don’t, but that’s OK.) How did your 2018 wrap up, and what plans do you have for 2019? I love to hear from you! Please share in the comments–and whatever your plans are, have a fantastic, happy, fun, safe, and prosperous New Year!

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

 

Where Did the Week Go?

This has been one of those weeks where it doesn’t look like I got much done, but I feel like I was busy all week.

Some of it was holiday stuff – a get-together with friends, a little shopping.

I also met my writing goal – barely. It helped a lot that I took the busyness of December into account and set a very modest goal. But otherwise, I can’t figure out where the week went.

Fortunately, the same cannot be said in Tennessee. We didn’t expect much to be happening, especially since the builder didn’t text or call with an update like he usually does. However, my husband got a text from our next-door neighbor: “Your house is going up really fast!

Our response was, “Huh?”

She went over there and took photos yesterday in the rain. Our builder’s crew has has had a busy week, and unlike mine, it shows.

The basement has been framed (outside and load-bearing walls inside – we will be doing the rest later). The main level floor is in, and they started on the back wall.

 

   

In the photo on the left above, the big, concrete pad in the foreground is the garage. The photo on the right is viewed from the front of the house.

What I’ve Been Reading: Finally finished some fiction, yay! In paper, I read The Mycologist: The Diary of Bartholomew Leach, Professor of Natural Philosophy by Nicholas P. Money. This historical fiction book is not something I normally would have picked up–I didn’t even know what a mycologist was, until my daughter bought this for me (it’s someone who studies mushrooms). The author is a professor she worked with her senior year at Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio), who she really liked and had a great rapport with. She bought two copies of his book to support him, which I loved! She normally prefers to read nonfiction, but really enjoyed this book, and says the main character basically is the author. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a Marty Stu, because the character was really well-developed and appropriately flawed. The book is told in a diary format, and follows the main character’s struggles with being an atheist in an era where this was not acceptable. The voice was perfect for historical fiction featuring a British professor living in Ohio in 1858. But what I especially loved about it was seeing my alma matter’s and the city of Oxford’s history, and “meeting” several of the men after whom the buildings there were named. I also enjoyed seeing the part Oxford played in the Underground Railroad. Highly recommended for those who enjoy historical fiction, especially if they’re interested in Ohio history.

In ebook, I finished The Demon Always Wins by Jeanne Oates Estridge. This was a fun paranormal romance featuring a demon who is forced to help Satan win a bet with God. While heavily steeped in Christian Biblical tradition, this was done in a humorous way so that it should be enjoyable to readers regardless of their religious faith or lack thereof (huh, interesting that both novels I finished last week had to do with religion?). Highly recommended for readers who like paranormal romance.

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What I’ve Been Writing: As noted above, I met my writing goal – barely! I wrote five days this week, for about 1200 words, and finished another scene, so I’m happy with that. I thought briefly about writing the short story that was the optional assignment in the Dean Wesley Smith workshop, but decided to just stick with the WIP instead, and I’m glad I did. I just did not have any more time to devote to writing this past week, and that won’t change this coming week.

I think ROW80 ends this week, but I’ll set a weekly goal anyway, since I need to keep up, and that is to finish watching the videos on the workshop, and to write at least five days, at least 200 words/day.

What about you–are you ready for the holidays? I’m not, though I am close. How are you keeping up with all the extra to-dos that December usually entails? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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

Last Year for the Skinny Tree

This past week, I finished decorating for Christmas. I don’t do much, just the mantel and put up a Christmas tree. I used to decorate the console table beneath our TV until our dog Isis started watching TV. Now, she runs and jumps at it growling any time she sees a dog or other animal (and sometimes other things we have no idea why). One of these days, I need to get some video of this, because it’s hilarious! Sometimes she jumps up on the console table, so anything on it is subject to be knocked over and broken. That’s not so funny. So my nativity scene is now on the mantel.

Our Christmas tree is a skinny little artificial thing that’s 6 feet tall, but probably less than 3′ around at the bottom. It’s great for a small house or apartment, and has served us well for many years. It fits well in the corner of our small living room. But in the new house, we’ll have room for a much bigger tree. Even better, we have 28 acres, much of which is wooded–and a lot of that is pine trees. My husband and I can’t wait to go out on our own land, pick out a tree, cut it down, and decorate it in our new home.

Speaking of which, the rain finally let up in Knoxville, and we now have a floor in the garage and basement!

      

Next up is either framing the fourth wall of the basement, or putting the main floor in, I’m not sure which. Of course, the timing is dependent on the weather, which is kind of iffy down there this week. And after that will be the holidays.

What I’ve Been Reading: I started another nonfiction book, but haven’t finished it yet. I also am still working on the same two novels, so nothing to report this week. The novels are taking a while since I’m reading two at once – the ebook if my husband comes to bed early; otherwise, I read the print book. Getting close to finishing that one, so I can tell you about it next week!

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What I’ve Been Writing: On track with my goals this week! I wrote six days, for a total of over 1600 words. Not a lot in and of itself, but enough to keep my WIP moving along. I also signed up for WMG Publishing’s Lifetime Workshop bundle. These are taught by Dean Wesley Smith (who puts them together along with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch). I’ve taken several of them over the years, and he offered a discount on the lifetime bundle to those of us in that situation. Then last week, he announced on his blog that they’d also throw in some of the separate “pop-up” workshops, AND a spot in his Business Master Class taught in Las Vegas every year. I’ve wanted to do the lifetime bundle since he announced it last spring, and I’ve also wanted to take the Business Master Class for years, so this was too good a deal to pass up. Right now I’m taking his popup workshop on Short Romance Fiction, which is a fun and interesting look at the history of the genre, as well as some tips for writing it in short form. At the end, there is an optional short story assignment, where, if I send it to him by the 16th, they’ll read it and offer feedback. For my writing this week, I might give that a shot. So my goal this week is to write at least five days, and either write a short story, or write at least 200 words on the novel in progress.

What about you–how are your plans and to-do lists going, as we get into this holiday season? What do you do to decorate? Do you read more than one book at a time? And how are you doing with whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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

The Purge Begins

No, not like the TV show. I’m talking about stuff–my stuff. Way too much stuff that’s collected in my house in the 25 years we’ve lived here, and has got to go before we move next summer.

I went through a big purge of stuff a couple years ago, but never got around to my office or garage. Let’s not even talk about my husband’s garage–yes, he has his own, he is Mr. Goodwrench, after all. But even in the parts of the house I got to, clutter has re-accumulated since the last purge. In some cases, not enough was purged to begin with–there’s still stuff there that I don’t want enough to move. So out it must go.

I’m happy to save I’ve managed to decrapulate my office, working just fifteen minutes a day over the past two weeks, Flylady style. (And isn’t “decrapulate” a great word?  So perfect for what I’m doing.) Today I worked in the basement, where there were still wood scraps, tools, and mostly trash from back last summer, when I was building mudroom and closet shelves for our flip house that we sold in July.

Now the purging will get tougher. I’ve hit the areas I missed on the last purge, so now it will really be a matter of asking if I want something enough to be worth moving it–and asking that of almost everything. The other challenge is that a lot of what needs to go is my husband’s, but he’s the kind who will wait until right before he needs to begin packing.

One side of my future office, with less bookshelf space than the current one (door is to the right)

Much of what I need to get rid of is books–and you all know how tough that is! In some cases, these are books I loved–but not enough to re-read them (something I almost never do anyway). I gave away a few boxes of them in my Readers Group Newsletter, then stopped due to just not having enough time and energy. Now it’s time to start that back up, so if you want to win a box of books, now’s a great time to join! Just click the link above.

House Update: Not much has gone on since our visit, as it’s mostly rained since then. The waterproofers were able to get their work in on the day we left, before the next rain, and plumbing for the basement drains is in. But this week is finally supposed to be dry, and they should be able to get the basement floor poured, then framing begins!

What I’ve Been Reading: My new Kindle Paperwhite came in this week, yay! I can now read in the dark again. Still haven’t finished anything there, now that I’m reading two novels–the paper one I already started, and am continuing when I go to bed before my husband, and an ebook I’m reading when it needs to be in the dark. So nothing to report there yet. In nonfiction, I finished Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. (On a funny note, when we first got our daughter a cell phone, she used to get tons of calls for Dave Evans from bill collectors until I yelled at one and told them the phone number was an eleven-year-old girl’s, and we didn’t know any Dave Evans. Somehow, I don’t think it was this guy. 🙂 ) I will admit this book didn’t do a lot for me, mostly because it turns out I’m not its intended audience. It’s focused on careers, and is geared toward people who are unhappy with their life or just don’t know what they want to do, and is full of exercises to work through to get ideas and figure that out. It’s ideal for recent grads, retirees looking for an encore career, or for anyone who wants a big change in that area. Judging from my recent career win in getting approval to take my job with me when we move, you might correctly guess I’m not in that position. The book also had lots of examples about people who were going through that, which I enjoyed. I guess what I got out of this the most is assurance that I’m on the right path with the changes I’m working on right now, and that’s not a bad thing!

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What I’ve been Writing: Another 1400 words–which equals goal met, whoo-hoo! The Coach.me app has really helped, especially on those days I just don’t feel like writing. Okay, I did take two of those this week, but my goal allowed for that, so no worries. I also met my goal of increased output on the days I did write, and got over 200 words each time. Still not tons in itself, especially considering how many people won NaNoWriMo this year (or even participated and “failed” to success by writing more than they otherwise would have), but hey, I’ll take it! Coach.me is also helping me with decluttering. Like writing, I have a goal to work on that at least five days/week.

Since this week is likely to be a busy one with all kinds of holiday to-do’s coming up, I’m going to stick with the same goal–200 words/day, for at least five days. Other goals include continuing with the purging, and getting the Christmas decorations up and most of my shopping done (thank you, Amazon!).

What about you–do you have stuff you need to purge? What about books–how do you purge them? If you celebrate the holidays, how are your preparations coming along? And how are you doing with whatever goals you may have, whether writing or otherwise? I’d love to hear from you–please share in the comments!

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

Slow Progress

That’s the case both with our new house, and with my writing. But much better than no progress, right?

We went to Tennessee for a couple days last week. Not much had changed with the house since the last photos I posted, but it had been two months since we were last there, and we wanted to check it out anyway. Since my last update, mostly what had been done was gravel laid in the driveway and in the basement, and the safe room built. This wasn’t something on our plans or that we requested, but our builder says the walls need to be built under the front porch regardless, so why not make it something useful?

Safe Room under the front porch

 

View from the front of the house, with garage on the right

 

This will be the view from the front porch – much different, with the leaves off the trees

Pictures are one thing, but standing in our soon-to-be basement and garage were quite another! We also met with our commercial real estate agent, who’s ready to step in and help us find and buy rental property down there as soon as the apartment building here in Ohio sells. Turns out her husband owns a brewery, and even though it’s not yet open to the public, they invited us over to see the place and enjoy some samples! The beer was fantastic, and it was tons of fun hanging out with them and the guys who were helping them build out their tasting room. We also had fun getting to know our next door neighbor, and our favorite server at our favorite restaurant (yes, we already have one, LOL). I even managed to keep up with my writing goals while we were there!

Thanksgiving was our usual nice, simple event with no drama–my favorite, and something I’m always thankful for. It did seem a little weird when my husband asked to take photos of us at the table, since it will be our last Thanksgiving in this house. It got really quiet for a few minutes there, but overall it was a nice, happy family get-together.

What I’ve Been Reading: I’m reading both a nonfiction book and a novel right now, but haven’t finished either, so I’ll discuss here after I have. The fiction reading is going slowly because I finally caved in to the ads to trade in my Kindle, and sent it back to Amazon while I could still get $25 for it, as opposed to only $5. It holds a charge, but only for a few days, and it’s getting difficult to charge since the USB socket no longer makes a good connection. So I figured I’d trade it in while I could still get the higher amount. My new one hasn’t come in yet, so I’m reading a paper book. No problem, except that means I have to turn off the light when my husband comes to bed. I miss my Kindle, because I like reading in the dark.

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What I’ve Been Writing: I met my stretch goal of writing all seven days this week, including the two nights we were in Tennessee and on Thanksgiving! It wasn’t that much, as I’m still baby-stepping my way with a 100 words/day goal, but I’ll take those words, especially since I finished a difficult chapter. The Coach.me app has been a big help, because I really love checking off that goal every day. It’s helped with my decluttering goal too, though I only got five days of that in due to our trip. This week, I’d like to up the writing goal a bit, and go for 200 words/day, for at least five days this week.

What about you–did you have a nice Thanksgiving? Have you done anything unusual and/or fun lately? How are you doing with whatever goals you may have, whether writing or something else? Please share in the comments–I love hearing from you!

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