What’s Your “Why?”

As fiction writers, it’s important to know why we write.

So many books, so little time

Writing is fun for most of us when we’re first starting out, before we know all the “rules” and reader expectations (and publisher guidelines, if one’s going that way). But that initial passion eventually fades, and writing can become work, even if it’s still fun. Without that “why,” it’s easy to get stalled out, put projects aside and never finish anything, and finally lose interest when the writing stops being fun (which often happens when the writing gets to being just for the money).

Nonfiction writers write because they have information to share that will help others or teach, or perhaps they want to share their own story for future generations. Fiction writers have stories to tell, characters that show up and won’t stop talking to us, or feelings and ideas we need to express. For both, writing can be therapy, and just plain fun; a means of entertaining ourselves. There are probably as many reasons “why” as there are writers.

For me, it’s having stories to tell and characters who won’t go away. Except they’ve grown quieter lately, which may be why I haven’t been writing as much. But the stories are still there, so I continue to write, even if it’s at a glacially slow pace.

It’s equally as important to know your “why” when it comes to personal finance and savings. Whether you’re saving money for retirement, a child’s education (or your own), for a vacation, a new home, or a car, our “why” has to matter enough to sustain us through the times when it’s hard to save, like when we’d rather go shopping or out for dinner and drinks one more time.

For most of the personal finance bloggers I read, their “why” is a desire to not have to spend so much time at a job, and instead have that time to spend with their families or working on a project they have a passion for–maybe even fiction writing! That’s certainly a big part of my “why”–with my fatigue, by the time I put in my eight hours’ work, then come home, fix dinner, and clean up, there typically just isn’t anything left. It’s hard to be creative when you’re tired, both physically and mentally. (Those people who say it’s good to write when you’re tired? Good for them–I can’t.) There are other things I’d like to spend my time doing rather than work, too. And also, there’s the worry that by the time we’re able to quit working for a traditional retirement in our mid-sixties, we won’t have the health and energy to enjoy it. For me, even five years early will help.

What I’ve been Reading: Ghostly Interlude by Stacy McKitrick. I loved this book! (And not just because Stacy’s a friend of mine. :)) It’s a paranormal romance, where a ghost is what brings the couple together, but is also part of what keeps them apart. The ghost is a fun character and obviously key to the story, but it reads like a contemporary romance with a bit of mystery, so readers who don’t normally go for paranormal would probably enjoy this. Highly recommended!

ROW80Logo175

What I’ve been Writing: Doing a little better this week. My bar was very low, so I did meet my goal! I finished the scene I’d been stuck on for weeks, and then wrote the next. That’s not as exciting as it sounds though, as that next scene was a very short one. All in all, I wrote about two pages. But still, that’s something! So my goal this week is to complete the current scene, which I expect to be longer and not so easy.

What about you–if you’re a writer or someone who’s saving money, what’s your why? Or maybe another goal–what’s your why there? Read anything good lately? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share–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 Tale of Two Houses, Part 1

2017 has been a long and busy year. A lot has happened, but not much writing. Probably the biggest event was my daughter’s graduation from college, and subsequent moving out on her own. She has a job she loves in higher education administration, and though we miss having her around (she lives about an hour’s drive away), we couldn’t be happier for her.

I got out of the habit of blogging, and one thing that kept me from getting back to it was feeling like I had to write a long, comprehensive post, and make it good. I realized that yesterday, and it’s kind of silly. Just like housework done incorrectly or incompletely is still better than not done at all, a short blog is better than none. So here goes…

A New House

Our house will be similar to this, only with an attached garage

Some of you might remember that my husband and I are planning a move from Ohio to Tennessee, with building a new house. You might have guessed that I’ve been away because of that. But (sigh), that’s not the case. I’m still in Ohio, and still haven’t started building. And that’s OK.

So to catch up on that, we got a few quotes from builders last spring, around the time I last posted here. Three builders gave us ballpark estimates that were pretty close to our budget, so all looked so far so good. Then they got back to us with detailed estimates. All were 50 -60% higher! We figured out that 1) the economy is good, so there’s plenty of work and 2) many of them are doing insurance rebuilds in Gatlinburg, so they’re extra busy. However, they’re happy to take on another project for the right money. That kind of money is not in our budget. So back to the drawing board there.

We considered downsizing the house by making the garage in the lower level–not really what we wanted. We considered being our own general contractors–we’ve done so on some pretty large remodeling projects, and my parents built two new houses years ago being their own contractors. But they built locally–we’re 300 miles away, so being our own GC would mean having to stay down there during construction. Also not what we wanted.

Our new rental house – isn’t it cute?

An Old House

The new house kind of got put on the back burner when we had an opportunity to buy another house–a rental, here in Ohio. It needed a lot of work, but that was all cosmetic, and the deal was too good to pass up, so we snagged it. (As a side note, we’ve owned rental property for many years, so this is not new to us.) That turned out to be an interesting ride…

Reading

I fell off the wagon keeping track, but I continue to read every day. I’ve been trying to read more nonfiction, too. Most of it is either personal finance or business-related, or is about home building. I finished a novel and a non-fiction book on New Year’s Eve.

For fiction, I read Pure Sacrifice by Jami Gold. I enjoyed her free short story in this paranormal romance series, so I bought book 1 earlier this year. I liked it, and a couple weeks ago I needed something to read and nothing on my Kindle jumped out at me, so I bought book 2. This series (the Mythos Legacy) has all the ingredients to a satisfying paranormal romance, but isn’t the same ol’ same ol’. In book 1, it was the heroine who was the paranormal character (usually, it’s the guy). In this book, it was the guy, but he was a shapeshifting unicorn–pretty different! The worldbuilding was nicely in-depth but not intrusive or info-dumpy, and the characters were engaging. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series.

In non-fiction, I read The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. For those not in the know, they are the hosts of HGTV’s Fixer+Upper, which is probably the most popular reality home show right now. I love their show, and really enjoyed reading about how they got their start in their various businesses to how they wound up with a their own TV show. This book pulled me in right away and kept me interested throughout, and I was sorry to see it end. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys Fixer+Upper!

Writing

While I did make progress on my next Saturn Society time travel novel, writing just wasn’t on my brain for most of the year. I did not complete any projects, and did not have any new releases. I want that to change this year. I figured out what happens next in the novel, and I’m excited to get back to it. Hence, I’m participating in ROW80 to keep accountable.

ROW80Logo175

ROW80, or A Round of Words in 80 Days, is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” We can set whatever goals we want for the challenge. Mine will be a stretch for the first quarter, which will end in late March: I want to finish the novel. It probably needs 20,000 more words. When I take the time and know where I’m going, I can write 1000 words in about an hour or so. The catch here is that I don’t completely know where I’m going with this book, so that’s going to be a stretch. I used to outline, but that grew to be less helpful as I progressed as a writer, as I believe one should always feel free to deviate from the outline when a better idea comes along for a story–and for me, it always does. Also, I need to get a newsletter out this quarter, as it’s been way too long since I’ve done that, too.

This week’s goal: I haven’t written since early November, so I’m going to do a full cycle-back and read the book from the beginning. It’s around 100,000 words at the moment (yes, I write long books). If I do that, hopefully other good ideas to wrap it up will come in the process.

This post is already getting long (so much for keeping it short) and I have a lot to do today, so I’ll continue with the house sagas next week, and post an update on my goals.

How was 2017 for you? It was mostly good for me! If you watch TV, do you like Fixer + Upper? (One thing I found interesting is Chip and Jo have not had a TV since they got married–no wonder they have time to do so much!). If you’re a writer, what kind of goals do you have for this year? How are you doing so far, one week in? Please share–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.

I am Officially…

BD PartyOLD. Yep, that’s why I skipped posting last week. Well, not really because of that, but because my husband threw me a big party last Saturday, and I was wiped out! Not from drinking, just tired.

My husband says I don’t look old, but sometimes I feel it!

The party was a lot of fun. I said “No gifts, please” unless they were gag gifts. He also did up our garage (party area) up right, with 50 black balloons, an “old lady” cane for me. And appropriately, a tiara. ūüôā

Most people respected my request, though a few brought bottles of wine. I don’t mind those, ūüôā though I don’t drink much, so they will last me a good while. But probably the best (and most creative) gift was a copy of “my” college yearbook, from one of my best friends from high school…

yearbook

My friend thinks I am really old LOL

yearbook inside

…but there is my photo

I apparently knew some interesting people! – click to enlarge –

VampireWeddingWhat I’ve been reading: I was pretty tired for several days after that, so I had time to read. I read the short stories from a Smith’s Monthly, then a book I’ve been looking forward to came out in the middle of the week: A Vampire Wedding, by Stacy McKitrick. This was a fun addition for those who’ve read any of her other vampire books, especially the one where the main characters in this book met. In this book, human Sarah does not want a big wedding, but agrees to go to Vegas with a few friends because it’s important to her vampire partner. There are a lot of humorous moments with secondary characters, and some real tension with her family, with a great come-uppance in the end (plus of course, a happily-ever-after–more than one!). I highly recommend this series if you like vampire romance, but read Bite Me, I’m Yours before this one.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I finished my latest edits of the novella, and it’s now off to the copy editor! This week, I need to do a¬†print book layout for Mythical Press, and I have a lot going on later this week, so I don’t expect to get much writing done. I’ll be happy if I get the print book done, and manage to keep up with the Business in Writing workshop I’m currently taking. Most likely, I won’t be posting here next week, but be sure to stop by the week after!

What about you–do you have any advice or tips for me, now that I’m “old”? Or perhaps any funny stories to share? Have you read any good books lately? And how are you doing on whatever goals you may have, whether writing related or not? Please share–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.

Spark Plugs, Executions, Outlines, and a Good Book

What do these seemingly disparate things have in common? I learned something about each this week! Let’s start with the book. Normally, I’d feature this on WANA Wednesday, but I only have one book, and I’m lazy, so…

thepromisedonehighresA couple of weeks ago, real-life writing friends C.D. Hersh released their debut urban fantasy, The Promised One.¬†In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil.¬†So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers¬†her uncle has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life‚Äďher badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew that his cop partner, and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan¬†had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn‚Äôt find that as charming. He‚Äôll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he‚Äôs not certain he can keep up a relationship‚Äďprofessional or personal.

I am reading The Promised One now, and really enjoying it! What’s especially cool is that it isn’t your typical creature-shapeshifter–in this book, people shift into other people. Very cool, with so many opportunities for things to get interesting! More info on their blog at¬†http://cdhersh.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/book-release-birthday/


So, one thing I learned this week is that it’s still possible to put a new twist on something that’s been done and done and done – in this case, the shapeshifter romance. Other things I learned are:

Another thing I learned is that changing the spark plugs on a ’99 Firebird is a major pain! They are almost impossible to get to. I know this, because my husband was attempting to do this on my old car, that our daughter now drives, and needed my smaller hands to help. We did it, but it wasn’t easy–he even ended up drilling a hole through the wheel well to get an extension socket wrench through to get to the most difficult one!

Third, I learned that six people can be invited to witness an execution in Ohio. Three by the condemned, and three by the victim’s family. Maybe this is obvious to folks who watch a lot of news–I found it in the process of doing research for my work-in-progress.

ROW80Logo175And finally, I’m finding that I don’t need to outline exhaustively to start writing–in fact, this is one excuse I use to procrastinate. I knew this before, but this awesome blog post by Dean Wesley Smith reminded me. If you’re a writer and you haven’t read it, go there. Really. This is the best blog post I’ve read all year! So I didn’t write up the 25 scene cards I’d noted in last week’s ROW80 goals–just made a few more notes, and started writing instead. Nothing major, just 250 words, but hey, it’s a start! Here are the rest of the details:

  • Do the Character Pre-plan Exercise for my antagonist – Done!
  • Work on outline‚Äďcreate 25 cards – not done, but still counting this as a win. See above.

I also started back in on fitness, now that I can walk on the treadmill for more than five minutes without having to stop to cough. Got four workouts in last week! I also picked up some more research materials at the library. I have a bunch of stuff going on this weekend which will require a good bit of prep time, so going easy on the goals this week. So here’s the plan:

  • Skim/read the smaller of the two research books
  • 1500 words on new ms
  • 4 workouts

What about you–what new things have you learned this week? Read any good books lately? If you’re doing ROW80, or just working toward some goals, how are you doing? Let us know 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.

WANA Wednesday, the Next Big Thing, and ROW80 update

First, congratulations to Kassandra Lamb, who’s celebrating the release of Celebrity Status, book #4 in her Kate Huntington Mystery series. In Celebrity Status,¬†Kate is now married to Skip Canfield, the man who patiently courted her through the last two books in this mystery series, and life is good. Skip‚Äôs private investigating agency, Canfield and Hernandez, may be doing a little too well, however. They have attracted their first celebrity client, a pop singer whose anonymous stalker has a twisted concept of love. Before Skip realizes just how twisted, he involves first his psychotherapist wife and then their lawyer friend, Rob Franklin, in the case.

Soon they are being hounded by paparazzi and someone is planting evidence to convince Skip that Kate and Rob are lovers. As they try to protect their relationship and family from this onslaught of unwanted attention, as well as a stalker who will stop at  nothing to remove the obstacles in his path, Kate and Skip struggle with the reality that you can’t always keep those you love from harm.

Kassandra kicked off a big blog tour on Monday, where she’ll be giving away an Amazon gift certificate, a signed paperback, and several e-copies of her books. More info at:¬†http://kassandralamb.com/2012/11/official-launch-of-celebrity-status-were-having-a-blast-and-a-contest/

And now for the Next Big Thing

This one’s been around for a while, but it finally caught up with me. Stacy McKitrick tagged me with the Next Big Thing meme, where I get an excuse to talk about my next book!

Since I don’t know if my NaNoWriMo book will be publishable, I’m going to answer the questions about my upcoming release. Here goes!

What is your working title of your book?
Hangar 18: Legacy

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This book has actually been published before, as paranormal romance Nothing to Hide. A while back, I decided to rewrite it, ¬†and rewrite I did – I didn’t even look at the original book. But the characters, their names, and the suspense/psychic abilities premise are the same, I just added the aliens (and improved on the writing). I got the idea for the psychic hero when my boss stopped by at work one day and asked me a question about the exact thing I’d just been thinking of. It was freaky, and I started to wonder, what if he could really read my mind? What if I was attracted to him? (I wasn’t; this is a romance writer’s mind at work. ūüėÄ ) ¬†The alien part came many years later, when I started working at the base that supposedly housed Hangar 18, where, according to legend, the aliens and wreckage from the Roswell incident were supposedly taken. I wondered what if it were real? And what if, somehow, the aliens were still alive?

What genre does your book fall under?
Science fiction romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I watch so little TV and so few movies, I honestly have no idea!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A psychic AF researcher and the skeptical developer of mind-control software must team up to rescue an imprisoned extraterrestrial thought dead for decades.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first time, about six months. For the rewrite, maybe half that. But revision took a lot longer!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
In its original incarnation, a reviewer compared it to Jayne Ann Krentz’s “gift of” series because of the psychic element. Of course now, the psychic is also a sexy Air Force officer.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The same things that gave me the ideas.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Hangar 18: Legacy is a different science fiction romance, with a good bit of suspense and one very angry alien. There’s not a lot of tech in it, so readers who shy away from that will still find Hangar 18 accessible. OTOH, my romances tend to have a lot of other action in them, so I have had male readers enjoy them as well. Basically, Hangar 18: Legacy is about Adam Keller, a psychic Air Force researcher, who can sense the thoughts and emotions of others. Because of his gift, he keeps people at a distance. But when an angry voice demands rescue, dark thoughts of death and suicide threaten to overwhelm Adam, until he meets a woman whose emotions quiet, if not silence, the voice. All he has to do is risk his heart and engage his own emotions.¬†Lisa Stark wants nothing more than to finish the subliminal messaging software she’s worked on for over a year. But when command cancels the controversial project, someone else wants it badly enough to kill for it. The only person who can save it and Lisa is Adam Keller, a man who’s as irresistible as he is crazy. Soon, not only is Lisa’s project at risk, but also her heart, and her life.

I’m going to weasel out of tagging others for this, because just about everyone I can think of to tag has already been tagged. But if anyone wants an excuse to talk about your Work In Progress, feel free to say I tagged you, and share!

Here are the Rules for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.


Quick ROW80 Update:¬†This month, my main focus is my¬†NaNoWriMo¬†novel. My weekly goal is to write 1,500 words four weeknights, and 3,000 words each on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday through Tuesday, I’ve written over 5,000 words, bringing my total to 23167¬†– right on track. So far so good!

What is WANA? It stands for¬†We Are Not Alone, a guide to blogging, social media and networking for authors by¬†Kristen Lamb. It’s writers helping writers, whether or not we’ve taken the course, and proving that we really are not alone!

 

What about you? Do you like mystery/suspense novels? How about with romance and aliens? If you are doing ROW80, how’s your week going so far? I’d love to hear from you!

The Book I Waited Years to Read

A couple weeks ago, a book was published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords that I’d waited for for years. No, not the latest installment in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. It wasn’t by a big name author – in fact, until a few months ago, I didn’t even know the author’s name!

Every winter, I judge in the Golden Heart¬ģ, the Romance Writers of America’s annual contest for unpublished romance. In this contest, the first three chapters and a synopsis are judged – up to 55 pages total. There’s no commenting – each entry gets a single, numeric score ranging from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest. Little direction is given beyond that we’re supposed to be choosing “the best in unpublished romance fiction,” and that each entry should be judged on its own merits, not against the others in our packet of 5 – 7 entries.

I’ve been a member of RWA since 2000, and probably have judged the Golden Heart for ten years. Based on the 1-9 scale, I’d consider a 5 to be “average” unpublished romance fiction, a 1 to be unreadable, and a 9 to be can’t-stop-thinking-about-it, want to read the rest NOW. The lowest score I’ve ever given was a 2.5. I’ve given several in the 8’s, but only one 9 in my ten years of judging. That entry was a paranormal romance called Ashes in the Wind.

The story was about a young noblewoman in the Roman empire who found herself inexplicably drawn to a gladiator slave and begged her father to spare the man’s life. For the next two chapters, she bargained her jewelry and other valuables for a few stolen moments with her gladiator here and there, unaware she and her love interest were under the care of a pair of guardian angels who’d been tasked with getting them together. But the bumbling angels didn’t count on one thing: Mount Vesuvius, and their charges die a horrible death in each other’s arms while trying to escape.

And that was where the entry ended. I was choked up (something that doesn’t happen to me easily!), and even though I had the synopsis and knew how the story ended, I thought about this book for days afterward.¬†I judged it in 2005 or 2006, I think. I was astonished when it didn’t make the finals (what were the other judges thinking???).¬†Some entrants put their names on their entries, but most don’t, and RWA doesn’t release names of judges or entrants, nor will they forward emails. I hoped this book would be published, and that I’d hear about it, because that was the only way I’d get to read the rest.¬†Even years later, I remembered it, especially each year when I received my GH packet and wondered if I’d get anything that good.

After I decided to take the independent route with my books, I joined a Yahoo Group for indie romance authors. New people joined every day, and often answered the invitation to introduce themselves. A few months after I joined, an author named Lori Dillon joined and described her book, a reincarnation romance set in Pompeii. It was that book! I couldn’t believe it, and I emailed her. We have something else in common in that we’re both graphic artists-turned-web designers. She also read my book Time’s Enemy and gave it a wonderful review.

The book was released as Out of the Ashes earlier this month, and I bought it right away. It didn’t disappoint! You can read my review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. The book is also available on Smashwords.¬†If you enjoy an emotionally-rich romance with a paranormal element that’s not the same-ol, same-ol, Out of the Ashes is a must-read!

Have you ever picked up a book that for whatever reason, you didn’t finish – only to find it again years later? Did it meet your expectations?

My Town Monday: The Road to Madness Starts Here

Next week, madness descends on Dayton. A very specific kind of madess: March Madness!

Okay, granted, March Madness will descend on pretty much everywhere in the U.S., and anywhere else where you can find fans of NCAA basketball. People will be huddled around lunch tables and water coolers comparing brackets, sitting at their computers filling out their best guesses as to who will advance to the next round, or engaging in some (hopefully) friendly wagering, while those who don’t follow the sport will be sick of the words “final four,” “bracket” and “seed” by next week.

And it all starts here in Dayton, Ohio, where the very first game will be played, at the University of Dayton Arena.

Dayton has hosted the initial NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game since 2001, when the championship series was extended by one game to allow an additional two teams to participate. The event was a hit, and the community embraced the game with open arms (and wallets). Last year, the opening round was expanded to four games, now known as the First Four, and met with equal enthusiasm.

This year, the city of Dayton is taking it further, by holding the first-ever, First Four Festival in the nearby Oregon District. About two miles from the arena, this free festival will take place on March 11th, aka “Selection Sunday.” This is when the NCAA will select which four teams get to compete in the First Four. There will be something for everyone at the festival. The Oregon District is a historical neighborhood with many bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so there will be plenty of places to gather for a beer or a bite to eat while watching the tournament announcements on the big screen. There will also be heated tents in the street, with more places to watch tournament events and get food and drink, plus live music and other entertainment, games for kids, and educational/informational displays about all kinds of cool Air Force technology that’s been (and is still being) developed in the area. There’s also a “First-Four-Miler” fun run associated with the event.

People around here loooooove college basketball, and the city expects to recoup the investment they’ve spent on the festival (and then some, they hope). Last year, the games alone contributed $3.5 million to the local economy, and this year, they’re expecting close to $4 million. In addition to the economic boost, the festival organizers are hoping the event will further the public’s association of “Dayton” with the “First Four.” Hopefully, it will also show the NCAA selection committee that Dayton should continue to be the site of the First Four for many years.

U.D. Arena seats over 13,000, and as of last week, over 10,000 sets of tickets (to all four games) had already been sold. The arena has hosted more NCAA Division I tournament games than any other site in the U.S., and Dayton has been one of the country’s top areas for game attendance for many years.

I’d love to hear from you! Are you a college basketball fan? If you live nearby, would you go to the First Four games? Or maybe the festival? Are there any big sporting events like this in your hometown?

More information on the games and event can be found at Dayton Most Metro, the Dayton Daily News, and the official First Four website.

First Four logo ©NCAA, via Dayton Most Metro
U.D. Arena photo by flicker user Sonnett is used under Creative Commons license via Wikipedia 

ROW80: Shuffling Along, but A-MAZEballs

This has been another less-than-stellar week, goal-wise, in which I’m not unlike a zombie.

But mostly, it’s felt like shuffling cards. Last week, my attempt to bring my burgeoning to-do list under control involved simply culling a bunch of stuff, sort of like pulling the twos through eights out of a standard deck of cards before playing Euchre.

I put the deck away each night, and each night, it seemed that gremlins were intent on finding those extraneous cards and shoving them back into the deck. So each day, the deck grew until it was back to being a standard 52-card deck.

No royal flush here!

The other thing I tried doing was shuffling. But shuffling doesn’t remove any cards. Likewise, moving a task that didn’t get done on Monday to Tuesday only increases the Tuesday list. The only solution I can see is to give up the to-do list for lent cut down the list even more, to the bare essentials. I even had a little reprieve last week, when I found my daughter had a band concert I’d forgotten about (i.e., not looked far ahead enough on the calendar). I rescheduled the meeting with the accountant, so I didn’t need to have the taxes done until this week. I was hoping to get them done anyway, but that didn’t happen. So now they’re definitely on the “bare essentials” list.

Last week’s results:

  1. Review Time’s Fugitive beta reader feedback (yes, it came back from the third beta)
  2. Collect remaining tax stuff for accountant
  3. Complete interview questions for guest blog
  4. Read nonfiction book for research
  5. Pick one task from marketing list, and implement it
  6. Three interval workouts plus two short workouts (Did two interval workouts and two short workouts)
  7. Track food intake every day (wow, I ate out too much last week!)

The good news is, that this beta read confirmed for me that I’ve found my Ideal Reader (as described by Stephen King in On Writing). This is the person who totally gets my work and loves it, but is also critical enough to see where I’ve screwed up something, left out something that needs to be put in, or left in something that isn’t needed. And she’s a good enough friend and writer to point all of this stuff out (or, when there isn’t much, to note that fact too, so I wouldn’t think she just fell asleep reading the long passage with no comments). And she didn’t have many comments, something I attribute to having put this book through the Holly Lisle “How to Revise Your Novel” wringer. And she said Time’s Fugitive is “EPIC” (yes, in all caps!) and “totally aMAZEballs!” And that she hated me because she stayed up until 5 AM reading, which is what we all want to be hated for. ūüėÄ

The other good thing is that I went through her comments and the other two beta readers’ (they are wonderful, too!) and made most of the changes they suggested, or at least considered them. I have just a couple more to address, then Time’s Fugitive is off to my awesome copy editor.

This week’s plans:

  1. Finish Time’s Fugitive beta reader changes and send to copy editor
  2. Format Hangar 18: Legacy for Kindle and send to beta readers
  3. Collect remaining tax stuff for accountant
  4. Read nonfiction book for research (it’s due back at the library this week)
  5. Three interval workouts plus two short workouts
  6. Track food intake every day (keeping this one on the list, because I’m still going back and entering this stuff the following day, which means I’m probably forgetting a few things)

How did you do this week? Do you find yourself still putting too much on your list to accomplish without burning out? Or have you mastered the shuffle that keeps the unneeded cards out? Or are you shuffling like a zombie? And for the authors here, on the good side of things, have you found your Ideal Reader?

Books We Loved (Way Back When)

Enough about books we didn’t love – how about those we DO love? I’ve loved to read as long as I was able, and before that, I loved to be read to. I had a favorite book back then, too – actually, a favorite set. The collection doesn’t appear to have a name other than “The Wonderful World of Disney.” There are four books, all published in 1965 (yes, they’re older than me. ūüôā ¬†). They’re¬†Fantasyland, Worlds of Nature, America, and Stories from Other Lands. It’s the latter that contains my first favorite story: “The Cold-blooded Penguin.”

I was probably three at the time. Both my parents can probably recite this story from memory, even now, because I asked them to read it to me almost every night.

“The Cold-blooded Penguin” is about a penguin who didn’t enjoy living in cold Antarctica. It’s based on an animated short that was part of the 1944 feature film The Three Caballeros.

While all of his penguin buddies were out swimming and tobogganing and doing fun, outdoorsy things, Pablo hid out in his igloo with a woodburning stove, trying to keep warm. One day it occurred to Pablo that he could move north. He tried walking, but froze (and had to be rescued by his penguin friends. He eventually decided to cut himself a boat out of the ice surrounding his igloo, and sailed north.

Not surprisingly, his boat melted before he reached the tropical island of his dreams. When nothing was left but his bathtub, he stuck the showerhead into the drain, and it magically drew water up through the pipes and propelled the boat forward! (This was the funniest part in the cartoon.)

Of course at age three, it didn’t occur to me to wonder about the magical showerhead, or where Pablo got wood for his stove in Antarctica, or why he needed a bathtub in his igloo. But it was a great story, and still is. I also still love penguins!

I also still own the four Wonderful World of Disney books. In my copy of Stories from Other Lands,¬†the picture above has black crayon covering the sky above the igloo, and Pablo’s belly. I’m sure I did it. I have no idea why.

 

Check out “The Cold-blooded Penguin” on YouTube:

Do you remember your first favorite book or story? I’d love to hear from you! Maybe I’ll (re)discover some more oldies (or not so old) but goodies!

ROW80: Giving up The To-Do List for Lent

No, not me. I’m not even Catholic. It’s my friend Jim Winter who’s giving something unusual up for Lent: his To-Do list.

Just the thought strikes terror into me. Without my To-Do list, I’d forget half the appointments I make – and I don’t have that many. I’d forget how much I’d planned to write – that evening, or that week. I’d forget to do the business paperwork, until my husband demanded it get done now (which doesn’t work very well). But Jim’s blog post made me think about how lately, I’ve again fallen into the tendency to overload my to-do list. Jim made the radical-sounding choice he did because he ended up serving his to-do list, rather than it serving him. It was removing flexibility from his evenings, to the point where he felt he couldn’t even go for a walk¬†– because he’d planned other things instead. It’s easy to fall into the same trap by overloading the list, which is why I think I didn’t get anything on mine done last week, except the writing (which didn’t even take that long).

Last week’s results:

  1. Review Hangar 18: Legacy for beta reader edits and research details
  2. Collect tax stuff for accountant
  3. Complete interview questions for guest blog
  4. Read nonfiction book for research
  5. Make list of review sites to submit to
  6. Pick one task off of marketing list developed last week, and implement it
  7. Three interval workouts plus two short workouts
  8. Track food intake every day (I’ve been doing this for a while, but really slacked off last week, so it needs to be on this list)

So I made a half-ass attempt at some of these items: I started collecting the tax stuff. I have a deadline on that, as I’m meeting with the accountant this week. I did all three interval workouts, but only one short workout, and only tracked my food a couple days, probably because I know it’s not good (darn Girl Scout cookies!).

So something has to give, but it’s not the to-do list – at least, not the whole thing. Instead, I’m going to limit it: no more than two tasks, besides my workout and writing. I think the reason so little else got done was because it was just too overwhelming. We’ll see how that goes!

Here’s the plan:

  • Review Time’s Fugitive beta reader feedback (hopefully I’ll get it back from the third beta)
  • Collect tax stuff for accountant
  • Complete interview questions for guest blog
  • Read nonfiction book for research
  • Pick one task from marketing list, and implement it
  • Three interval workouts plus two short workouts
  • Track food intake every day

How did you do this week? What do you think of my friend Jim’s radical plan?