Overdue Update

Anyone who’s read this blog recently (this past year) can probably guess why I’ve been absent for the past several weeks. Yes! My brain has been stuck on house-house-house-apartments-house-house-apartments-house-house…

We’ve been to Tennessee twice since I last blogged, and there’s been a lot of progress on the house. All three people who read this are probably looking for pictures, so who am I to disappoint them?

The exterior painting is mostly done, with the exception of the porch posts and deck railings, and a few spots of trim. Also, the builder finally got rid of the big dumpster in front so I can finally get a decent photo:

    

They’ve mostly been working inside this past month. They have stained the beams, installed the tongue-and-groove ceiling in the great room, master bedroom, and my office, and have put up most of the window and door trim. Ahhh, the smell of Minwax in the evening…

When we were there in early May, our daughter and her partner joined us. It was the first time they’d been to the property, and they loved it! We went for a hike around the land. There is an old, fallen-down farmhouse on the other side of the ridge from where we’re building, and our daughter found the outhouse that went with it. She also found wild roses along our driveway, and there were wild strawberries growing on the other side of the ridge. Fun discoveries!

A lot more had been done when DH and I returned last week. Kitchen cabinets were in, and so were the built-ins for my office!

     

And in case you’re wondering, no, our entire house is not being painted mauve. That’s the primer (which was weird to me, as I’ve always seen white primer).

In addition to the house stuff, there’s also been some big changes in our real estate investments (aka my retirement). We sold the 16-unit building we owned here in Ohio, which leaves us owning only our house here. We then bought two small complexes in Tennessee, one with 10 units, the other with 13. There is a lot of paperwork involved in both selling and buying, and I’m the one who handles that, so… apartments have been very much on my mind. It helps that the new buildings came with property management in place, and they look like they really  have their act together, so once I get online banking and a few bill payments set up, our work with these should be minimal.

We’ve also started working on our current house, getting it ready to sell. My husband’s been patching walls and painting, and we’ve started to pack away personal items and get rid of clutter. We’ve already taken a load of outdoor stuff to Tennessee, and will take more once the house is under lock and key.

What I’ve Been Reading: Of course I’ve still been reading! I can’t go to sleep at night without reading first, kind of like how Beavis and Butthead can’t sleep without TV (thumbs up if you get that one!). I’m too lazy to link them all or find covers, so I’ll just list them. There were a couple of additional non fiction books I started but did not finish, that are not listed here. I highly recommend all of the books below!

  1. Soldier’s Duty by Patty Jansen. Third in her Return of the Arghyrians science fiction series, which I really enjoyed.
  2. Writing with Chronic Illness by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I found this one really helpful in seeing how someone else has dealt with this and still manages to produce a lot.
  3. Heir’s Revenge by Patty Jansen. Fourth and final book in the Return of the Arghyrians series.
  4. “Savannah’s Destiny” by Stacy McKitrick. A fun, entertaining short story that meshes her Bitten by Love vampire romances, and her Ghostly Encounters paranormal contemporary romances.
  5. Growing as a Professional Artist by Leah Cutter. Came as part of a writers bundle I bought. Some good tips on dealing with being a introvert and having needs that are different than most people (creating art).
  6. Atomic Habits by James Clear. Details why and how we form habits, and how we can control which new ones we form (and get rid of bad ones).

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What I’ve Been Writing: Uhhhhhh… not much. I started about a month ago with a greatly-reduced goal of 100 words/day, five days/week. I hit that for a couple of weeks, then hit a snag in the WIP. It was too easy to just set it aside, especially when the latest Tennessee trip came up and apartments took over my brain. I have still been thinking about my WIP though, and I think I see a way through the hangup, so I’m going to try getting back to the WIP. Since the new house, and all the stuff to do at the old one is still taking up a lot of my brainspace, I’m going to start back in with my easy goal of 100 words/day, for five days.

What’s been going on with you, or in your life? Do you sometimes feel that your brain is too full to be creative? How are you doing with whatever goals you might have? 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.

Getting to It, Again

Things have been crazy since I last posted, three weeks ago.

In that time, we’ve sold an apartment building, realized our house was waaaay over budget (and figured out some ways we can mitigate that), and contracted to buy another apartment building. Oh, and there was a holiday in there too, for which I had to do extra cooking and cleaning (fortunately, I had help).

So yeah, no time or more importantly, brain, for writing or blogging.

The apartments are kind of a big deal, because that’s most of our retirement. We manage them ourselves, and that has made them more profitable than they otherwise would have been. We can’t exactly do that once we move, so we decided to sell them, and buy something in Tennessee. This has all involved me collecting a lot of paperwork, executing contracts, researching potential purchases, and more–enough that I’ve had no brain for writing. Fortunately, the new apartments we’re under contract to buy make good money–enough that it will help with the house’s budget overages. So it’s all good.

My husband took a few more house pictures when he went there last week to look at the apartments. The exterior is finally getting paint. The fireplace on the back porch is done, and drywall is also done. I picked out interior paint colors and emailed the builder, so that comes next.

          

What I’ve Been Reading: In the past three weeks, I’ve completed two nonfiction books, plus a short story anthology.

The Fiction River was enjoyable as they always are, and yes, there were two or three stories I skipped because they were in first person present tense. Despite the title, only a couple of the stories were romance; the others dealt with love for one’s children, family, friends, or even a place.

The Due Diligence Handbook was all about things to look for and check into when under contract to buy commercial property, which includes apartment buildings larger than four units. We are under contract to buy 23 units, so this seemed worthwhile. It really didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, though, and a lot of it was not applicable to apartments, but more focused on retail, office, or other types of commercial property.

Work Optional was a good book about preparing for retirement, and was written by the author of the Our Next Life blog. Like the blog, the book goes over the financial aspects of preparing for retirement, but focuses mostly on the emotional side of it and planning what you’ll do with your time–material that isn’t well-covered in many other retirement resources. Recommended, whether you think you’ll be able to retire early or are just hoping for a traditional retirement starting in your mid-60s.

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What I’ve Been Writing: Uhhhh….. (see above). The apartment and house stuff pretty much took over my brainspace for the past few weeks. There just wasn’t anything left for writing. It was compounded by the fact that I’m in a stuck spot right now. So this week, I’m going to try to ease back into it with a very modest goal–100 words a day, for five days. We’ll see how that goes.

What about you–do you sometimes feel  like there just isn’t any brain left for writing (or something else)? Have you read any good books lately? What’s been going on in your life? And how are you doing with your goals, whatever they might be (I hope better than me!)? 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.

Family First

This week, I lowered my writing goals a bit, because I knew I’d be spending more time with my family–and family comes first in my priorities, definitely above writing. Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a good blog post about this a few weeks ago, and it’s worth the read on the importance of setting these priorities, especially when we have limited time and energy.

When regifting is cool: the bell to the left of our wedding cake topper was a gift from my mom – she received it for her 25th anniversary!

This week, we celebrated my being married to my own personal hero for 25 years. That’s a long time! And it’s been great. We’re looking forward to 25 more years, starting with an adventure moving to a new house in a new state. DH and I went out to our favorite special-occasion restaurant on Tuesday, the day of our anniversary. We’d planned to have my parents and our daughter and her partner over for a celebration at our home yesterday. My mom wound up hurting her back, so we went to see her on Friday instead, and enjoyed spending time with the kids over the weekend. My mom was feeling a bit better, and we had a nice visit (with my dad, too). And having the kids over is always fun.

So not much focus on the writing, but that’s OK.

Nothing to report on in Tennessee, but I hope to have some more house pictures soon. Oh, and this is why my husband and I didn’t buy each other any gifts–we’re buying each other a new house, LOL!

What I’ve Been Reading: I’m not going to name this week’s book, because while I enjoyed it, it really ticked me off.

I knew when I bought it that it was short, no problem. I knew it was the start of a series, so I expected that there would be some plot points not tied up at the end.

Except what it actually was, was the start of a serial.

Meaning nothing was tied up. It left off in the middle of the action, and nothing was complete.

I’ve read serials before, and it’s fine when I know that’s what I’m getting into. I’ll typically wait on them until the whole series is out, so I can grab the next book right away. In this case, there’s one more book out, but I have zero expectation that it’s finished, so I’ll pass on that. Fool me once, you know?

I also got a nonfiction book from the library that just wasn’t doing anything for me, so I let the loan expire. No big deal.

So not a good week for reading. I’ve started another novel by an author I know will deliver, and I bought an omnibus of the series, so no worries about being left hanging. I already read the first book, and it was appropriately tied up (with a few things left loose) so I have no worries about this one.

What I’ve Been Writing: With all the celebrations, I lowered my weekly goal to four days writing, of 500 words each. I hit that goal with 2200 words. Normally, I’d raise the words/day for this week, but it could be a busy one too, so I’m leaving it at 500. I’m also still getting a feel for the story, so more is pushing it.

What about you–any celebrations in your life lately? They don’t need to be a milestone like mine! How’s your reading been? Do you like serials, or stick to fully-finished books? How have you been doing on whatever goals you’re working on, 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.

Round 1 Wrap-up

Hard to believe we’re halfway through March already! Even harder to believe that it’s only three days until spring – it was snowing buckets here earlier today!

This weeks has been relatively uneventful, which is not a bad thing. No news from Tennessee on the house. As far as the unwanted neighbor business goes, they just closed on the purchase of a large, adjoining lot. The landowner claims he’s going to turn it into gardens, but no one believes him at this point. It doesn’t change anything as far as his zoning change request, except that if he still wants the change, they’ll have to re-apply at this point. So we’re still in a wait and see mode there.

What I’ve Been Reading: Finally finished my novel last week, The Longview Chronicles: The Complete Saga by Holly Lisle. It took a long time because it was actually a boxed set of six books that started with a novella, and each one got longer. Book 5 was definitely a full-length novel, and not a short one either (at least it didn’t feel short). But, it was well worth it. This is set in her Settled Space universe, a series I love. While it’s an independent story, it links to the prior two books in the series, Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood and Warpaint. The main characters from those novels appeared in the fifth book, which I had not expected and was a great surprise since I love them. However, it was probably more enjoyable since I’d read those books. This series is space opera at its best–fantastic worldbuilding of a dystopian society, and characters fighting to make a difference. I will note that this series is very dark, and contains graphic violence, so be aware if that’s not your thing. It’s normally not mine, but it’s completely appropriate for these stories, and I doubt they’d pack the emotional punch they do without it. Highly recommended!

What I’ve Been Writing: I didn’t quite make my goal this week, which was to write five days, for a total of 2500 words. I had a couple days where I just didn’t feel like writing, so I only got four days in. I got 2015 words out of those however, so I’ll consider that a “failing to success” as it’s still not bad and moves me forward. I am getting a good feel for this new WIP, and completed the first scene.

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Which brings me to my quarterly goals, or ROW80 Round 1 Wrap-up. I know it’s not quite the end of the quarter, but ROW80 is only 80 days, so it ends on Thursday and this is my last post before then. My goals were to finish Time’s Guardian, my last WIP, and start on my new one. I did both of those. I have about 3600 words in on my new book, which is hmm…. far short of the 40,000 I’d hoped for! So what happened? Well, the first book ended up taking a little over 18,000 words to finish–a good bit more than the 5,000 I expected! I also went through a revision, which took waaaaay longer than I thought it would–pretty much the whole month of February. And ramping up to the 5k/week also took longer than I expected.

But still, that 22,000 words is more writing, done more quickly, than I’ve accomplished in years, so I’ll consider that “failing to success.” And I still have a chance to hit my BHAG (Bit Hairy Audacious Goal) of writing 150,000 words this year.

I also had a goal to complete two online workshops, although I didn’t mention it in my 2019 Goals Post back in December. That goal I met.

This week I have a few things going on, so I’m going to shoot for what I did this week: four days, at 500 words/day, for a total of 2,000 words. And, keep up with the online workshop I started yesterday.

What about you–what’s been going on in your life? Read any good books lately? And how have you been 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.

Progress

View from our back deck, with snow-covered mountains

This has been a week of progress on many fronts.

It finally stopped raining for long enough in Tennessee that our builder was able to pour concrete for the front porch and lower level back patio.

The back patio now has concrete

And we got confirmation that the business wanting the commercial zoning across the street has again postponed their zoning hearing. Even better, a similar request is on the docket for this month’s meeting, and the agenda packet already has the board’s recommendation: Deny–for all the same reasons as our rationale for denial of the one across the street. So it looks like the zoning commission is very closely following their published policies–a very promising precedent for our group! One of our neighbors wound up getting into a long conversation with the landowner yesterday. While he was cagey as usual, she interpreted his hints as leaning toward downscaling his operation to the point that it will work within agricultural zoning.

Which makes me very hopeful, as our #1 goal is to avoid the commercial zoning. There could still be some undesirable effects if the downscaled business goes in, especially for the neighbor who spoke with the landowner (she’s right next door to his property), but he’s now on the county and environmental agencies’ radar, and we’re hoping they’ll also give him some pushback.

Despite these things, our group is not making any assumptions, and we aren’t resting! We’re about to launch a website, which I put together a couple weeks ago, and spent most of yesterday writing content for. It’s one way I can contribute from 300 miles away. Now I’m waiting for just a few more things from others, and it will be ready to go. So more progress!

What I’ve Been Reading: In nonfiction, I read Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach. This book is a classic in the personal finance category, and has been recently updated. While it was an easy and worthwhile read, I probably didn’t get as much out of it as a lot of people would, simply because my husband and I already do a lot of the things he suggests. But if nothing else, it made me feel better about our prospects (mostly regarding retirement, and what we’re doing with our move).

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What I’ve Been Writing: Over 1500 words on the new WIP! My goal was 250 words/day for five days, or a total of 1250 words. I wanted to start slowly, as I don’t know where this is going (this is the first time I’ve started a book without outlining, which is new and scary for me, but I think the right choice). In some ways it’s harder than finishing a book, because there’s so much I don’t know. But in another way it’s not difficult, because I at least already know my characters and what’s gone on with them before. So this week, continuing on, with a goal to write 500 words/day, for five days.

What kind of progress have you seen or made lately? Or if you don’t feel you have, why do you think that is? How are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward, 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.

Another Quick Update

This week has been another of those where it feels like I’ve been busy all week, but haven’t accomplished much. This time, it wasn’t Facebook, but TAXES. Yep, it’s that time of year in the U.S., and I had to collect all the tax documentation for our accountant. You’d think this would be easy, because I’m fairly organized with our paperwork, but with five businesses, it still adds up.

Yes, five businesses. None that are very big, but still, all have their own paperwork. Four of these were rental properties we owned (all but one of which are now sold). The other is my writing business. Got that done and met with the accountant yesterday, only to realize a couple hours later that I totally forgot to tally up the mileage and a few random business expenses here and there that were paid by personal credit card, and add those to our business expenses. :facepalm: So now I have that to do this week.

Tennessee update: Nothing much has happened there, because all it’s done this week is RAIN. Rain, rain, and more rain. There are roads closed all over Knoxville due to flooding, and one of our neighbors’ business places is flooded, too. No worries for our house, as it’s on a ridgetop, but I feel for those who have all this water to deal with. The rest of the windows came in last week, but haven’t been installed due to the constant rain. They’re supposed to have a few dry days until they get a little more rain at the end of the week, so the windows should go in soon. Our hot tub was also delivered, as it will be much more easily installed if they can take it through the house before drywall goes in, which should start soon after the last windows are installed. But more important, I hope those whose homes and businesses have flooded are able to dry them out.

What I’ve Been Reading: Back to reading fiction (other than mine), a novel I’m really enjoying! But you know the drill. I’ll write about it here when I’m finished.

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What I’ve Been Writing: No new writing. The goal was to get through my corrections. I came close, but due to the time I needed to spend on collecting stuff for taxes, I didn’t quite get done. I do expect to finish this week, and get the book off to my first reader, and after that, it’s time to start the next book.

This is where it gets scary. I’ve never written a whole book into the dark before, so we’ll see how that goes. My goal for that is just to start.

I also need to do some work on my computer. It’s been overheating lately, mostly if I walk away from it and leave it on. I pulled it out and opened it up the other day, and confirmed what I’d suspected–the case cooling fan isn’t running. As long as I’m using the computer, it stays within an OK temperature, but if I walk away, it heats up pretty quickly. So I need to figure out if the fan’s bad, or possibly just disconnected. Hoping it’s not a software issue, as that’s not software I have any kind of expertise with. The computer is nine years old, so nothing would surprise me. But it’s fine other than the overheating, and I see no reason to replace the whole thing if only a fan needs to be replaced.

What about you–are you staying warm and dry? It’s dry here in Ohio today, but super windy! If you’re in the U.S., do you have your taxes filed yet? What else has been going on in your life? And how are you doing on 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.

That Time We Went to a Zoning Board Meeting for Valentine’s Day

We spent most of the past week in Tennessee, to check on the house, but also to meet with the neighbors on the unwanted business across the street. We met several neighbors we hadn’t met before, or had only met online–all super nice people! And on Thursday, we attended a zoning board meeting.

The zoning change request for the business in question had already been postponed. After a couple of community meetings–one run by my neighborhood group, and one by the developer–they seem to have figured out that they won’t be able to just quietly push this through, so they asked for a postponement of the zoning hearing. With that, we knew it wouldn’t be discussed in this meeting, but DH and I, plus a few other neighbors went anyway, expecting it to be an educational experience.

It was. One thing I can say is, the Zoning Commission is nothing if not efficient. Three hours had been allotted for the meeting, but it was over in one. There were over thirty items on the agenda, however, probably half had been postponed. Of those remaining, only a couple had any controversy or opposition, so the rest were approved in a single, blanket vote. Of the other two, one was simply a neighbor representing a group who wanted some conditions on the proposed development, which the board and the developer both agreed to. The other was a group of condo owners who didn’t want more condos built behind them. Their argument was weak, and the developer’s request was granted. My group’s focus is on the zoning board’s posted policies, rather than us not wanting this business in our back yard, so we have a much stronger position when it goes to hearing.

On a related note, while we were there, crews were installing erosion-prevention fencing on the business’s property–something the county ordered them to do two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, things are progressing on the house, although they’re being held up a little because the custom shape window order had still not come in. The rest of the windows went in a couple weeks ago, and most of the siding is up. They also finished the decking and the breezeway. Rough-in plumbing and electrical are mostly done. Our builder and his crew were installing the big interior beams while we were there, which was exciting to see!

DH having fun on the Bobcat

My husband asked the builder if he could use his Bobcat. The builder said “sure,” so DH took off and cleared some trails around the property. There are two more new houses going in down the ridge from us, which we can’t see because it’s almost 1/4 mile away, and obscured by trees. DH cleared the overgrown mess on the ridgetop trail, so I was able to walk down there and see what kind of progress had been made. The land was cleared and a driveway put in, but that was all. I imagine the builder is waiting for better weather.

None of these things go together, yet here they are

I also couldn’t help noticing this incongruous scene behind the builder’s porta-potty: a pink sink, daffodils, and a bulldozer. We asked where the pink sink came from, thinking it might have been beneath the pile of rubble a few yards away, that was once a little farmhouse. But there was actually quite a story behind that sink. It came from another job site our builder is working on, where his crews demolished an old mid-century modern home. Given the popularity of that style, I would have been surprised the house was torn down–except it was the site of a grisly, unsolved murder from fifty years ago! The story and photos of the house were in the local news when our builder did the demo a couple months ago, and it’s a fascinating story. It was a beautiful house–but understandably, no one wanted to live there, so the new owners are building something new.

My husband also had some fun setting off a black powder cannon that evening. It was loud enough that another neighbor a half mile away heard it as clearly as if she’d been there–and it was pointed away from her place! Three neighbors joined us, and everyone had a good laugh.

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What I’ve Been Reading: Still my book, but finished last night! Overall, I did not find any major mistakes or fixes needed, so that’s a good thing!

What I’ve Been Writing: Nothing, because I was focused on the read-through, which was my goal for this past week. For this week, my goal is to go through and fix the mistakes, and get the book to my first reader.

What about you–any news or discoveries in your life? Or even any educational opportunities? 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.

Busy, but not Accomplishing Much

Ever had one of those days, or weeks, when you feel like you’ve been busy the whole time, but haven’t marked much off your to-do list?

I was discussing this phenomenon with my daughter recently, and she said when she has days like that, she looks back and realizes she actually was busy–with chores. Stuff that needs to be done, but isn’t part of our regular goals.

I’ve had one of those weeks, but I can’t blame chores. In this case, it’s Facebook, mainly keeping track of our groups in Tennessee who are working on fighting the zoning change across the street from our new house. That’s something no one in the neighborhood wants. I am not able to do much from 300 miles away, but moderating the groups is one way I can help, along with little bits of research, so I’ve been doing those things. I have a website to work on today for them, so this will be a short post.

I don’t have any new photos of the house, but work is continuing there, and as far as I know, all is on schedule.

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What I’ve been Reading: My own book! I’d hoped to get through the read this past week, but only got about halfway through. Part of that is because I haven’t had the time to devote to it that I wanted, the other part is simply because, have I mentioned it’s a long book? I’ve been watching workshop videos while on the treadmill, so no nonfiction reading either (though the videos count, right?).

What I’ve been Writing: Again, nothing. I’m focusing on the read-through of my WIP. That’s also the plan for this coming week. I’m hoping I’ll have enough time to finish the read-through, so I can then move on to revisions.

What about you–ever have one of those days, or weeks? What’s been going on in your life? 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.

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.