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.

More Reading than Writing

My plan to get back into a writing habit didn’t work out so well this week. No new pictures of the house either, though work has continued in Tennessee. The basement walls are now done and waterproofing has been applied. The crew also pumped concrete into the hollow cores of the blocks. The plumber was due to rough-in the drains in the basement either Friday or early this week, as our basement will eventually have two bathrooms and a kitchenette. Initially, it will be unfinished, and we’ll finish it out ourselves later. So for now, we just need drains before the floor is poured.

I also finished the electrical plan, aside from a few details I need from others.

It’s not as complicated as it looks… no wait, maybe it is

What I’ve Been Reading: I did a fair amount of reading this week (for me), and finished two books. In nonfiction, I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book was mainly about how introverts (ME) see and process the world differently than extroverts. The best thing about it? How many times while reading it I thought, wow, it’s not just me! And that it’s OK to be introverted, even if we’re not the ones usually getting the attention (nor do we usually want it). Interesting and worth a read if you want to understand yourself a little better, or if you’re an extrovert, to better understand how our minds work.

I also finished a science fiction novel, Watcher’s Web by Patty Jansen. I looooooove Patty Jansen’s fantasy books, and this was one in a pack of four books you can get for free for signing up for her newsletter. Like the first book of hers I read, it took me a little while to really get into, but once I did, I couldn’t stop reading. Jessica, the main character, gets pulled into another world (through a wormhole, so science fiction, not fantasy). There, she learns that not only is she not human, she’s part of an ancient race with some serious powers–and lots of people who would enslave her to get their hands on them. I will definitely be buying the next book, and eventually all, of this series of four.

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What I’ve Been Writing: As noted above, Not. Much. I started out well, and got my words in on Monday and Tuesday. But on Wednesday–I don’t remember what was going on–I think my husband went hunting, and we wound up eating a really late dinner, and that threw me off. I totally forgot about doing any writing until I was ready for bed, and then I was like, I’m tired, I’ll just jump back in tomorrow.

Well, you can guess how that went. One day off turned into two, then three, then… heck, I’ve already blown it, so much for that goal.

So for this week, I’m going to just set a total word count–something small and easy, and something I can break up into something even smaller and easier, or one I can catch up on if I do this nonsense again, let’s say 500 words this week. Such a small amount, surely I can hit this one? We’ll see!

What about you–ever have one of those weeks where you just can’t get much done, and there’s no reason for it? Have you read any good books lately, fiction or non? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have for yourself? 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.

A Hole in the Ground

That’s what we have in Tennessee right now! The builder has finished digging for the basement and foundation, and when we talked to him on Thursday, he was planning to pour the footers the next day.

While all that has been going on, I’ve been working on what I call “The House Book.” In software developer parlance, it’s basically a requirements document (along with the plans). It’s where I’ve noted everything we want as far as finishes go, as well as any minor changes to the plans. For example, we removed a couple of doors–there are TONS in this house. I also decided I would rather have a large, blank wall in my office instead of a closet–I’ll be getting plenty of built-ins for storage, and those are detailed in the book as well.

I haven’t been writing any fiction in the past month, because my head has been full of house stuff. It’s amazing how it totally takes over your brain! (Or is that just me?) I finished the house book last week and got that out to the builder, so time for fiction now, right?

Not exactly. I still need to do the electrical plan–that is, note on a digital copy of our house plans where each light fixture goes, any outlets outside of the ordinary, like one in the middle of the floor in my office,  to allow for a second desk that I’ll use for writing. And the electrical plan also includes where all the switches go, and which switch controls which light or outlet. This should go much more quickly than the book, and since it’s just one area, isn’t as mentally consuming.

I did manage to dig back into fiction a little, reading my latest scenes in an effort to get the WIP back into my brain. So there’s that.

I also kept reading, and have finished some good books over the past couple of weeks.

What I’ve Been Reading: In non-fiction, I read The Groovy Guide to Financial Independence: How to Escape the Tyranny of Mandatory Toil in Fourteen Years or Less by Mr. Groovy. The author is half of the couple of pseudonymous bloggers who write at Freedom is Groovy, one of my favorite personal finance blogs. I bought it because it was on sale for $0.99, and I knew it would be entertaining (while imparting good info). And it did not disappoint. I didn’t really expect to learn much, if anything, as I binge-read the entire blog, and as I expected, the book was pretty much the same material, reworked into a more organized form. It was still worth a read if for nothing but the entertainment value–Mr. Groovy has a fun-t0-read voice with plenty of humor, and makes otherwise dry financial topics into something fun. I mean, where else can you find a lesson on personal finance from Hannibal Lecter? Highly recommended, whether or not you’ve read the blog–doubly so if you haven’t.

In fiction, I finished Relic of Sorrows: Fallen Empire Book Four, by Lindsey Buroker. This is a space opera series I’ve been really enjoying, and this installment (book 4) was every bit as entertaining as those that have come before. Not only was there plenty of action and space battles, there was a logical progression of the characters and their relationships. This is one series that needs to be read in order, so if you’re looking for some good sci-fi, give the first book, Star Nomad, a read. Even better, it’s free.

What I’ve Been Writing: As noted above, the House Book. Now that that’s done, I still need to do the electrical plan, but my goal this week is to finish that, and dig back into the WIP. So my goal is to get anything written on it, even it’s just a paragraph. Baby steps!

What about you–what have you been up to? Read any good books lately? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have? 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.

Building Begins

We went to Tennessee this week, and our land looked quite different from the last time we were there! We went straight to the property when we arrived in town, rather than to our hotel, and the changes were obvious, starting with our new driveway! There was already a driveway onto the property, and we’ll use the same approach from the street and first few yards, but the builder suggested routing it a different way to go up the hill that would be a little shorter, easier, and most importantly, less expensive.

  

When we got to the top, we found that the builder had completed leveling the top as promised:

The bulldozer was still parked up there, too.

We came back the following morning to meet with the builder, and also met his foreman (and bulldozer operator). Then, we went to three different places to discuss windows, and try to figure out what would be the best material combination for our budget, while still being of good quality and energy efficiency.

That evening, we went back to the property. The building foreman had left us some wood in the middle of the leveled area, as my husband had mentioned that he wanted to come back for a campfire.

So that’s what we did. We watched the sun set and the sky darken. Being on the ridgetop with no buildings around, it looked almost like a planetarium, with the sky looking like an inverted bowl as the stars slowly came out. It was very clear, but not a good night for stargazing as there was a very bright half moon. It was that kind of clear night where sound travels a long distance–we could hear our next door neighbor calling her chickens in (1/8 mile away). We could hear the neighbors around the corner (3/8 mile away) jamming on some headbanger music (as in, they have a band). Not loud enough to be bothersome, and luckily we like that kind of music. 🙂 (We heard them playing when we looked at the property, so it was not a surprise.) We could hear traffic on the busy road almost a mile away–again, not bothersome, and even with those sounds it was very peaceful up on the ridge.

We returned the next morning to meet with the builder, staked out where the house would go, then the foreman got busy widening the leveled area.

All in all, a successful trip! Now it’s really starting to feel real. Exciting, but also scary.

What I’ve Been Reading: Right before we left on our trip, I finished My Soul to Keep, an alternate history novel by Lynette M. Burrows. And wow, what a fantastic book! As a time travel writer, this was the kind of story I love. It takes place in 1961 in a very different USA than the one we know. In the story world, the Axis powers won WWII, and the US became a religious state, where women had even fewer rights than they had decades ago in the real world. The story centers around Miranda, the daughter of a religious leader who runs away from an arranged marriage and realizes she’s been living a lie. Fascinating worldbuilding, with lots of historical details from the real world dropped in along with those of the changed world. Relatable, interesting characters and one exciting scene after another that’s action-filled yet makes one think, make this a book I highly recommend. Can’t wait for the next one in the series!

What I’ve Been Writing: Not fiction, that’s for sure. My brain has been consumed by house stuff this week, and since our return from Tennessee on Friday, I’ve been working on what I call “the House Book.” This is where I’m making notes of things I want incorporated into the construction, finishes, fixtures, trims, colors, and more. Not only are there seemingly a million decisions to make on this stuff, some items have an overwhelming number of choices. In addition, some things require research (at least, that’s how I roll), so writing up the spec book is not a quick task. I’m probably half done with it (maybe?) and hope to finish this week. If I don’t get it all done, I at least have completed the parts our builder will need first, namely roofing, exterior, windows, doors, and plumbing.

How about you–what’s been going on in your life? Have you read any good books lately? Any tips to share with me on picking finishes for our house? 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.

A Surprise Visit

Here I am blogging late on Sunday again, but today, it’s for a good reason–my daughter and her partner came for a visit this weekend!

We were not expecting them. They hadn’t planned to come either, but had an unexpected change of plans, freeing up their weekend, so they chose to spend it with us! We enjoyed a couple of good meals out, and got a lot done.

Our tomatoes have been very prolific these past couple of weeks, and we had more tomatoes than we could use or give away, so my daughter showed me how to make sauce from roasted tomatoes. Easy, and yummy! She and her partner also got a bunch of their stuff cleared out, since we will be moving next summer.

Tennessee Update: We closed on our construction loan! It was a very different experience. The bank emailed us the paperwork, and I printed it all out for us to sign. I ended up being really glad my daughter had not cleaned her stuff out of the computer room yet, because with only ten pages left to print, I ran out of paper. But there were two reams she’d left, so no need to make a late-night Meijer run–which is what I otherwise would have had to do.

The bank was very insistent that we not sign anything until the official closing date, so the next day, we signed the paperwork that didn’t need to be notarized, then went to our local bank and signed the rest with their notary. It took all of a half-hour, if that. My husband then took it to the Fed-Ex retail center, along with the bank’s shipper account information. The loan originator received everything the next day, and it’s done! Our builder is planning to start cutting in the driveway tomorrow.

I also got the window estimate back, from the customer of my former employer. It was 50% over our budget! That was not altogether unexpected by me, because we are going for more of a mountain lodge look, and want woodgrain interior windows. Those cost a lot more than white, which is what goes in most houses, and probably what the builder budgeted for. We’ll get a couple more bids in Tennessee, and go from there. If they’re a lot higher (certainly possible), we may still go with this first one I got.

What I’ve Been Reading: I started a new novel, but am only about halfway through it (it’s pretty long), so I’ll discuss when I finish it.

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What I’ve Been Writing: Not much–only got about 200 words total this week. But I finished the chapter! So that’s something. Now I have to figure out what happens next, enough to start writing the next one. This is always the hardest part of the book for me, as I’m coming up on the end, and it has to be exciting and dramatic, while pulling all the characters and loose ends together. I also have an out-of-town friend coming to visit later in the week, so if I get 500 words in, that will be good.

What about you–any surprises in your life lately? I hope they’re as good as mine was! How are you doing on whatever goals and plans you’re working toward, 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.