Two Steps Back – Splash

No, I didn’t walk backwards into a pond (that would be cold now!). But that’s what’s been going on this week. My husband tiled our kitchen backsplash wall this week, one of many little tasks we didn’t want to pay the builder to do. I helped a little. It’s glass tile, so will be easy to clean. I’m very happy with how it turned out!

We got our first snowfall of the winter earlier this week, very early for this area! We’re not complaining, because it was still a good ten degrees warmer than Ohio (and any little bit is good), and the roads were clear. Even better, enough people stayed in that it was a very good day for me to go to the DMV to get my Tennessee driver license. Normally there is at least a two-hour wait; I got right in.

I don’t mind snow when it’s this pretty… and only stays for a couple of days.

We also had our first power failure last night. Luckily, my husband had just made a fire, so we were warm. The power was only out for about an hour and a half. One of the neighbors walked out to the street and found that there had been a wreck–someone took out a telephone pole, and the electric cables were in the street. Luckily there were no major injuries and the power company had everything fixed quickly. The fire kept the house warm enough that the heat didn’t even come on with the lights.

What I’ve Been Reading

How to Manage Your Home without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White. I saw this book on another blog right before we moved. With my new house, I’d love to keep on top of keeping it reasonably clean, so this book caught my attention. It was as entertaining as it was informative, and introduced me to the concept of “slob-o-vision:” the inability to see a mess until it’s really, really, out of control (my husband totally has this LOL). If you’re looking for ideas in this area, I highly recommend this, even if you’re not really a slob. (By her definition, I’m “normal”. LOL!)

I liked that book so much, I got her other one, which I really need: Decluttering at the Speed of Life. Moving made it oh-so-obvious that we have Too Much Stuff. This book was also entertaining, and gives a bit of a different take on decluttering that I found helpful even though I have nowhere near the clutter problems she had. Also entertaining and highly recommended, especially if your challenges with keeping your home are mostly clutter-related.

Her blog, where it all started, is also entertaining and helpful.

What I’ve Been Writing

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This is where the two-steps-back comes in: I’ve been kinda stuck this week, and wound up only writing one or two days. I don’t even know how many words, but it wasn’t much. The current scene has now had two false starts; it’s time to just spend a few minutes with an old technique that used to help me tons but I’d forgotten about: spend ten minutes and write everything you know about your story. I’ll try this tonight, then see how I do the rest of the week. So my goal for the week? Get unstuck and going again!

What’s new in your corner of the world this week? Did you get snow, and how was that for you? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have, 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.

Progress

I’m happy to report that the title refers to both the house and my writing, albeit slow in both cases.

I went back to Ohio for a few days last week, mostly for work, but I also wanted to see my parents. I also had a couple of nice surprises in that I had lunch with one of my best friends from high school, who works across the street from my client’s office, and also got to see my daughter and her partner. Work was boring, but it was stuff that needed to be done and overall a successful trip. Also the first time I drove all the way there and back by myself! The only other time I drove all the way myself was when we moved, and I had a back seat full of critters (my turtle, goldfish, and two tanks of gerbils). At least I didn’t have to worry about the 4″ of water sloshing out of the fish tank if I had to brake quickly this time.

As good of a trip as it was, I was glad to be home. For one thing, I picked a wonderfully (not) cold week to go to Ohio, and also, we typically didn’t see things like this there, though that may be more because we were in the suburbs, rather than on a ridge top:

View from our deck one evening in October

  

While I was gone, my husband was busy too. He did a bunch of work outside, and after it got cold (though not as cold as Ohio), he installed all of the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs in our laundry/mudroom and in my office. They’re a little detail, but I never appreciated how nice it is to have handles on cabinet doors and drawers until we didn’t for a month.

He also made these hooks out of antlers from a deer he got while hunting last year (also, the deer was delicious). He put these up in our bedroom, and they look great.

  

What I’ve Been Reading

As I mentioned last week, I still managed to read during all the craziness of fixing up the old house, packing, moving, unpacking, and projects here. So far this year, I’ve read 31 books, plus a short story and two nonfiction books that just weren’t doing anything for me so I didn’t finish them. I will just touch on a couple of the novels I read, both of which I really enjoyed.

On Hallowed Ground by Jansen Schmidt This romantic suspense features a Native American heroine and a hero in law enforcement. Rich, cultural details and a lot of research on the author’s part make this one of those stories that pulls you right in to the story world. Definitely enjoyable, and highly recommended for those who enjoy romantic suspense!

Biting the Curse by Stacy McKitrick was another book I enjoyed this summer. This latest installment of the Bitten by Love vampire romance series features a heroine whose every love interest meets an untimely death, until she unknowingly hooks up with Sam, whose vampire powers should protect him, but even that becomes questionable. Another enjoyable read, with plenty of suspense!

 

What I’ve Been Writing

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I met my goal this week of writing 100 words per night. Not that that’s very much, but I’ll take it! I even managed to get the writing in while I was in Ohio. That’s an accomplishment, as I usually find it hard to get to the writing while traveling. It probably helped that I went alone, rather than with my husband.

This week, I’m going to try ramping that up by just a little, to 250 words/day, for five days this week.

What about you–have you read any good books lately? What other projects have you been working on? If you’re a writer, do you find it hard to write while traveling? If not, please share your tips in the comments, as I do need to make regular trips and can use all the help I can get!

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.

I’m Back

Six weeks ago, we moved into our new house.

In a way, it’s been a long six weeks. In another way, it seems like it’s been no time at all.

The house wasn’t 100% finished when we moved in. We gave the builder a punch list when we were here on Labor Day weekend. They finished the things they needed to get a Certificate of Occupancy, but didn’t fix any paint dings, unevenly-hung doors, or things like that.

Nor did they clean (they wanted $3000 to do that, then came down to $1500. Plus the builder’s 15% fee. No thanks).

But the move finally happened three weeks later. We’re here, and slowly cleaning, fixing things, and unpacking.

But never mind all that. How about some pictures?

Even U-Haul’s biggest moving truck couldn’t fit all our stuff! DH has had to make several trips back to Ohio, mostly for garage stuff. Maybe we have too much?
The disaster that was my office after moving day
The kitchen and dining room three weeks later, after our daughter and her partner helped us clean. There were still boxes shoved against the island.
Husband and dogs napping in the family room
The view off our deck one foggy morning, with clouds layered between the mountains
After a couple weeks of constantly sweeping dog hair, we got a robot vacuum. Isis still isn’t sure what she thinks of it.
One day my husband kept hearing something going clunk… clunk… near his truck. Then he saw the legs underneath. I guess this wild turkey thought he found a new friend in the truck’s shiny, black door!
The front of the house, complete with junk still on the front porch.
The back of the house, with some grass growing now that we’re finally getting some rain!
Taking a walk down the driveway. The dogs love it out here!
The office is no longer a disaster! Isis approves.
…but there are still plenty of boxes to be unpacked, mostly books (does that surprise anyone?)

As you can guess, there hasn’t been much writing happening. Since early summer until this past week, I think I broke out the WIP twice, maybe three times. And those Big Hairy Audacious Goals I came up with back in January?

Um, yeah. Not happening.

But I’m now getting back into my WIP. This past week, I went to Las Vegas for Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Business Master Class for writers. Well worthwhile, though much of what I learned there is future oriented–as in, information I’m not ready to put to use right now, but that will be good to know for planning, ideas, and just knowing what’s possible.

I also got to meet some cool and interesting people, including Smith, creator and owner of Bookfunnel Damon Courtney, BundleRabbit creator and owner Chuck Heintzelman, Mark LeFebvre of Draft2Digital, and Allison Longuiera who runs WMG Publishing for Smith and Rusch. 

While the learning opportunity was great and met my expectations, the workshop helped me achieve my other main goals: 1) get my writing mojo back and 2) bust out of my comfort zone.

Granted, the whole move has been about the latter, especially given that I’ve been interviewed on TV twice since then! That was for our neighborhood group that continues to fight the business that’s trying to go in across the street from my house. They are trying some different tactics now (requesting a new mixed-use zoning designation instead of commercial), but so are we. All is still up in the air, though I highly doubt they’ll get to do as large an enterprise as they’re shooting for.

What I’ve Been Reading

Plenty! I have to read at least a little bit to go to sleep at night. But this is already going long, so I’ll go over some of those books next time.

What I’ve Been Writing

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As noted above, not much! After I returned from Vegas, my goal was to simply open my WIP each night and just write something. I did that. Now it’s time to jump back into ROW80, “the Writing Challenge that Knows You Have a Life.” For those unfamiliar with the group, the year is broken up into four quarters, or “rounds.” They’re already well into Round 4, but what’s great about ROW80 is you can jump in any time, set goals that work for you, and get that accountability some of us need on their blog or Facebook page. 

I still have a lot to do in my office and around the house, so I’m going to keep this week’s goals modest: 100 words/day, for six days. Wish me luck! And visit other ROW80 members on the blog or on Facebook.

What have you been up to lately? I’ve tried to keep up with my blog reading this summer, but that too has been down a bit in the past few weeks, so let me know! Did you make any Big Hairy Audacious Goals at the beginning of the year? If so, how are you doing on them? 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.

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.

Late Start, Round Two

ROW80 Round Two began last week. Or if you prefer, second quarter of the year.

And I totally missed it.

I do have an excuse reason: we were in Tennessee, a few days later than originally planned. We’d originally planned to go Thursday through Sunday, but DH was sick so we waited a few days and left on Sunday instead, after he was feeling better. I guess some people can get out their laptops and write while in the car… I’m not one of them. And by the time we got in the writing and blog just weren’t happening.

Monday was a whirlwind, though much better than the last day that busy. We started out grabbing some paint chips for the house, then looked at flooring, and that took a good while longer than I expected. But I’m very happy with what we picked out! We wanted something with the look of hardwood, but that wouldn’t be practical with two big dogs, so we went with vinyl plank. Good vinyl is very convincing, and it’s also less expensive than hardwood, so win! Did I mention we’re over budget? So double-win!

After that, we drove by an apartment building our commercial Realtor sent us info on. And while all this was going on, our Realtor in Ohio was calling us. The apartment we’re selling here is under contract, but there have been some odd things about it all, so we’ve been expecting the deal to fall through. It was supposed to close on April 15th… but the buyer decided he wanted to close last Tuesday! So DH was scrambling making phone calls to the title agency and various other players to see if that could happen. The title agency later informed us that they couldn’t pull everything together that quickly, so the buyer would have to wait. We’re supposed to close this week. We’ll see what happens!

Island countertop chosen by my husband

After checking out the TN apartment, and grabbing a quick bite to eat, we went to the kitchen cabinet vendor to confirm our cabinet choices made over email, and to pick out countertops. DH surprised me when he actually made a suggestion on the latter, and it was a bold, dramatic pattern I would have never expected from him. This countertop will be on the island, which will have black cabinets. The rest of the kitchen will have the grey stained cabinets, with black galaxy granite. We have the latter in our house now and love it (the copper fleck is great for hiding crumbs!).

Then we went to meet the builder at the house. We’d already stopped by the night before, but had some questions for him. Workers were there installing insulation. We used our paint chips to decide on the specific exterior colors (as in, other than “brown”). Since my last update, the stone has been added, deck railings mostly finished, and more of the shake siding on the center section that hadn’t been completed yet. The metal roof over the breezeway and part of the porches is done. They also put the hot tub on the porch, since it will be much more difficult to move it there once drywall goes in (soon!). Fireplace inserts were also in, and more work on the plumbing and electrical.

For the colors, most of the house will be the darker brown shown here. It’s about the same color as the decking. Trim will be the medium brown, and the shake siding will be the lighter color.

 

      

     

In other news, the unwelcome business proposed for across the street has postponed their zoning hearing for a third time. Another commercial zoning request in our area was just denied on all the reasons our opposition group is asking for this one to be denied. I hope the landowner and his employees are figuring out that the re-zoning policy does not favor them, and just give up and go elsewhere. But until they do, the neighbors and I are continuing to keep a close watch on the situation.

What I’ve Been Reading: Why yes, I still managed to do some reading. Last week, I finished Trader’s Honour, by Patty Jansen. This is a YA science fiction, and while its predecessor didn’t feel very YA, this one did, mainly because amidst saving the world (or at least her part of it), the main character was worried about college (or their equivalent), and a guy she liked. I really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to Book 3 in the series.

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What I’ve Been Writing: Despite my lack of a check-in last week, that’s been moving along, too. My goal last week, thinking we were going to TN on Thursday, was to write 2000 words, and this past week’s goal was to have been 2500. I ended up with about 2200 words last week, and 2600 this week, so happy with that. There’s bound to be some extra craziness this week with the apartment closing and paperwork collection for that, so I’m going to stick with a goal of writing five days, for 2500 words again.

What about you–how have your last couple of weeks been? Any surprises (good ones, I hope!)? How are you doing with whatever goals you may be 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.

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.

Cabinet Shopping

That’s what we did for the new house this week. We also had a tenant move out of one of our apartments, and that unit was due for new cabinets as well – the ones it had were original, from the 1970’s, and were cheapies back then. So we went to Cabinet Factories Outlet of Richmond (Indiana). This is where we bought the cabinets for our flip house, twice, and we paid about half for them that we would have from a big box store.

Side note about this shopping trip only readers would appreciate: we took a different route there than we usually do, and went through the small, historic town of Fairhaven, Ohio, which was featured in The Mycologist, a historical fiction book I read a few months ago, so that was cool to see!

An example of the cabinets for the new house

The apartment cabinets, we could have obtained from a big box store for about the same as we paid in Richmond, but the ones we bought were nicer. We also gave them info to work up a quote for our new house. I already talked to a supplier in TN that our builder uses, but if we can get them significantly cheaper in Richmond, it will be worthwhile to drive over there, pick them up, and take them to TN ourselves (they don’t deliver). My mom was familiar with the brand they quoted us, and said it’s a very good product.

Not much news on the unwanted business across the street from our house in TN. They have been working on the corrective measures the county and state are requiring of them to fix some of the environmental damage they’ve done, so that’s a good thing. Their zoning request is still on the preliminary agenda for March, but that happens automatically when one requests a postponement. They’re required to post notices of the zoning change request at the property fifteen days prior to the meeting, and those haven’t appeared, so that tells us they are indeed postponing again, as they’ve communicated to the media (our group is still keeping an eye on things, however). One article published last week quoted the CEO (not the landowner) saying that if this location doesn’t work out, they’ll buy land elsewhere for the business. That sounds really good to us  and our neighbors! Hopefully it will be in a location more suitable for their business, rather than trying to force a big commercial project into a residential community.

There has also not been much going on at the house itself–I think the builder finally was able to get the rest of the windows in, since they had a couple of dry days, but not being able to do that has delayed them a bit.

On another note, only one week until Daylight Savings Time, whooooo! I am always happy to have that extra hour of daylight in the evening, and it helps my energy levels, too. My fatigue hasn’t been as bad this winter as the past few, I think because I’m working remote. But I’m still glad for DST! I’d like to have it year-round, because I hate the time change, but better to have the change than to be stuck on standard time all year.

What I’ve Been Reading: Still haven’t finished anything – the fiction I’m reading right now is actually six novellas/short novels in one, that makes for a really long book. I’m enjoying it, but will discuss when I finish. One of my requested nonfiction books also came in from the library and I started that, too.

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What I’ve Been Writing: Finished the corrections, and Time’s Guardian is off to my first reader (and copyeditor #1)! I also started my next WIP, which will most likely be the last in the Saturn Society series. My goals was just to start on it – anything, even if just a sentence. I got about 125 words in, so that’s a win!  I had a hard time the past couple of weeks finding time for the edits, so this week, I want to ease back into writing new words. My goal is to write at least 250 words/day, for five days.

What’s going on in your life? Done any shopping lately? Do you prefer Daylight Savings Time, Standard Time, or just hate the change? 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.

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.

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.