Construction Update

I somehow managed to get a once-a-week blogging streak going, so I’m posting today’s update mostly to keep that.

This week was a busy one, as it probably was for most people with the holidays. I finished my shopping on Tuesday, which is better than I usually do. Normally, I put off buying stocking stuffers until a day or so before Christmas, but this year I got it all early. It’s more important now than in the past, as starting this year, stocking stuff is all my husband and I are getting for each other. Now all that’s left to do is tidy up the house, and cook Christmas dinner. My mom brings a lot of that, so that’s easier than it sounds.

Tennessee Update: the house is going up fast. The builder sent us these pictures just two days after our neighbor sent us last week’s.

      

From left to right, the back of the house, the front, and the garage. There will be decks all across the back side. And wow, does the place look huge! It isn’t that big a house – about 2000 square feet, plus the lower level. That will be unfinished, which we will do later.

What I’ve Been Reading: I’m reading an entertaining fiction book in a series I love, but haven’t finished anything this week. I have not had much time to read other than a chapter or so before bed, so it’s going slowly. I didn’t read any nonfiction this week besides blog posts.

What I’ve Been Writing: The writing is still coming along slowly. I hit my not-very-ambitious goal of writing at least 200 words, for five days this week, so that’s a win. I also finished Dean Wesley Smith’s video series about writing a clean first draft. Most of it was reiterating stuff I’ve already read/heard from him before, but he finally described his “cycling” method of writing the way I’ve always thought of it: revising as you go. I’ve been working toward this myself, as I find it a lot more fun than writing sloppy first, then doing a massive revision (which is how I used to write). I”m not convinced that this is the way to go for everyone (even Smith says “every writer is different”), but it might be something worth trying if you haven’t.

I also discovered some plot holes in my WIP–pretty typical when writing time travel. So this week, my goal is to spend at least an hour total on my WIP, starting with fixing this, and maybe or maybe not including new words.

What about you–what’s going on in your world? Are you finished with your holiday preparations, if you celebrate? What are your plans for the week? I love hearing from you–please share in the comments! And finally, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all!

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

The Purge Begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slow Progress

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

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

Safe Room under the front porch

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restart Accomplished!

Not much going on in Tennessee, so no new photos. They haven’t even done the waterproofing yet, because of too much rain–the house hasn’t had enough time to dry off between storms. But the weather’s looking good for this week, so here’s hoping they get to it before the holiday!

On the other hand, plenty has gone on around here, including writing! I had an unspoken, unwritten goal this year of reading more nonfiction. Given my “What I’ve Been Reading” posts, you might guess that I’ve done well on that goal so far, and I have. This week, I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, which is about starting new habits or stopping bad ones. (The full title is Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.) This book gave me some good insights on my trouble getting to the writing, along with some things to try.

It begins with the premise that when it comes to things like setting goals, forming habits, meeting deadlines and the like, people fall into one of four “tendency” types. Our tendency, along with whether the goal/habit/etc. is self-imposed, or comes from an external source, determines how likely we are to meet the goal, stick to the habit, and so on.

On one end of the tendencies is the Upholder, who is good at meeting any goal, deadline, or habit formation, regardless of whether it comes from within or from others. The author identifies as this type, which obviously, can form habits more easily. At the other end is the Rebel, who resists habits, deadlines, etc. regardless of their source. Upholders loooooove gold stars, while Rebels couldn’t care less.

Most people fit into one of the other two types. The Questioner does great at meeting self-imposed deadlines, goals, etc., but resists those imposed on him by others. I’m using “him” here, because my husband is a Questioner, as is Ms. Rubin’s, and my brother is definitely a Questioner. That’s not to say Questioners can’t meet guidelines imposed by others, but it needs to make logical sense to them.

The fourth, and most common tendency type is the Obliger. These folks hate to let others down and will meet deadlines set by others, but find it hard to meet self-imposed deadlines or goals, or to establish habits simply because they themselves want to. Obligers do much better when there is some kind of external accountability.

So which one of these am I? If you guessed “Obliger,” you are right! That’s why I love ROW80 so much. For those who might not know, “A Round of Words in 80 Days” is a challenge group in which each writer sets her own goals, then reports back to the group in the form of a blog post once or twice a week. There is also a Facebook Group, and anyone is welcome to join at any time. Many times, knowing I had to report in for ROW80 would give me the extra push I needed to get to the writing and meet my goals.

Coach.me, online version

But lately, it hasn’t been enough, and that’s where the book had some good suggestions. Four basic techniques can help just about anyone form a habit. These include monitoring (tracking something makes us pay more attention to it), foundation (adding a habit to another, existing one), scheduling, and accountability. Scheduling was something I’d certainly heard of before, but had never tried. So this past week, I did. I blocked off time on my calendar every night after dinner (foundation). Then I tried something else that the book suggested might work particularly well for obligers: I downloaded an app. The book didn’t name a specific one, but a quick Google search for “writing habit app” led me to coach.me, a well-reviewed app available for Android, iPhone, and on the website. (The app itself is free; additional optional coaching services can be purchased.)

The app lets you select from one or more existing goals (or create your own), then determine how many times a week you want to work on it, and when you want reminders. When you work on your goal, you “check” it off for the day, which I find so satisfying! Every few days, the phone will notify you if you have a streak going–fun! Also, I love seeing those checkmarks add up. I guess Obligers like goal stars, too. 🙂

So between scheduling my writing time and using the Coach me app, I’ve managed to write every day this week. Once again, I’m starting slowly, so it’s not a lot, but I am writing. Even better? I set another goal in Coach.me for decluttering, and I hit my five days/week goal there, too.

What (Else) I’ve Been Reading: On Common Ground by Jansen Schmidt. This contemporary romance features Trevor, a cop on administrative leave who also knows ranching. He works on a friend’s ranch while waiting for Internal Affairs to investigate his case and clear him of guilt. Having recently escaped a bad marriage, he wants nothing to do with women, not even the hot female horse trainer who’s also hiding out while working on the ranch. As a rape survivor, Ketra wants even less to do with men than Trevor wants with women, so watching these two resist their growing attraction to each other pushes all the right romance buttons, along with the cowboy/horses/ranch tropes. Following them as they learn and grow and slowly leave their distrust behind makes On Common Ground a satisfying romance read I definitely recommend.

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What I’ve Been Writing: My goal in Coach.me was to write at least five days a week, at least 100 words a day. I wrote for six days (I’m writing this on Saturday, and haven’t written yet today), and got a total of 1,077 words! Not a lot compared to NaNoWriMo standards, and not a lot by my standards, but I’ll take them!

This week’s going to be tricky. I have a lot going on, plus Thanksgiving on Thursday, which I’m hosting. So I’m going to stick to the same goal–write at least five days, at least 100 words. We’ll see how that goes in a non-typical week!

What about you–which tendency do you think you are, based on my quick descriptions? Do you find it easy to form new habits or lose bad ones, and how does that vary if the habit is self-imposed, or comes from an external force? How do you stay consistent in your habits–any more tricks I might try? And how have you been doing on any goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? I’d love to hear from you–please share in the comments!

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

Slow Start

Starting back to writing, that is. The house is moving right along, and we now have basement walls!

House viewed from the front

 

As viewed from the back

There’s no back wall because it’s a walkout basement. These are very common in the Knoxville area, because it’s very hilly. Traditional, full basements are not common in that area, probably for the same reason.

We went with a block wall basement because, according to our builder, it’s about half the cost of a poured concrete wall. And they’re just as good as long as they’re waterproofed correctly (our current house also has a block wall basement). Once the walls are done, they’ll pump concrete into the interiors–the cost savings come about mainly because block walls don’t require forms. Next step (I believe) is to put the plumbing in. There is a kitchenette and two bathrooms in the basement. The builder won’t be putting these in–we’ll finish it ourselves later–but they will put in drain pipes before pouring the floor.

My goal was to get the electrical plans done this week. I did maybe half of it, mostly because some other stuff I had to do earlier in the week took more time than I thought. I should be able to get the electrical plans finished this week. It’s not like they need them yet, but I don’t like to do this stuff at the last minute; would rather have it done early so I have plenty of time to research–and yes, change my mind before it gets expensive. 🙂

What I’ve Been Reading: I wanted to read some more of the great big paper TBR pile, so I pulled out Heart Dance, by Robin D. Owens. I used to really love this series–actually, I don’t know why I haven’t read any in many years, because I really enjoyed this one. What’s funny is a few chapters in, it started feeling really familiar. At first I put that down to there being a lot of similarities between the books in this series. They don’t need to be read in order, and are each about a different couple, but they’re in the same world and a lot of the same magical things happen to each couple as a result. But then some of the things from the main character’s backstory starting feeling familiar too, and I remembered a pivotal scene that most likely came from this book and sure enough, I’d read it before. Funny thing was, I didn’t remember much about it besides those familiar details and that one scene, though I knew the couple would end up together because duh, it’s a romance. 😀 I still enjoyed it, including the way the ending came about! It was probably 8-10 years ago that I read it, and given the number of books I read, I guess I can take a pass for not remembering. One thing it did was remind me how much I enjoy the series and its world, and make a point to check out the half dozen or so books in the series I know I haven’t read. The first book in the series, Heart Mate, was  RITA Award winner, way back in 2002. If you like fantasy romance with a bit of sci-fi tossed in, I highly recommend it!

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What I’ve Been Writing: My brain’s still stuck on house stuff, so I almost forgot about my goal until last night–11:52, to be exact. So I opened up my WIP and wrote a few paragraphs, helped by the looming deadline I’d set for myself. So, a slow start, but goal met! If it hadn’t been late and I hadn’t been about ready for bed, I would have written more, as it was fun. I wrote a little over 100 words, so this week, I want to continue that, and write at least 100 words, for at least five days.

What about you–how are things in your world? Have you ever picked up a book you thought was new to you, only to find out it wasn’t? My mother-in-law used to do this often enough that she started making a list of everything she read, and she’d check it before buying new books. I do this too, but didn’t start until after I read Heart Dance the first time. How are you doing on whatever goals you might have? I’d love to hear from you–please share in the comments!

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

 

This Week was a Bust

…at least where writing was concerned. As I mentioned in last week’s post was very likely, sure enough I did not get any writing done. Maybe I should have titled this blog, “Writing Excuses”…

Part of the reason is because I’m coming up on the climactic scene, which I find to be the hardest part of the book to write. In this case, I’m also fighting “fear of I-don’t-know-what-happens-next,” since I didn’t outline this book to that extent. Anymore it seems that when I do outline, I deviate so much from it, it’s not being worth the bother, so this time, I didn’t outline. I doubt it would have helped even if I had, because… deviating.

We also had a house guest for a couple days this week–a writer friend from New York state! We haven’t seen each other in seven years (too long!) so it was great to see her and spend some time together. It was also exciting to show her my hometown and its fascinating history, almost all of which was new to her. We spent an afternoon at the National Museum of the USAF, and another at Carillon Historical Park. She loves learning about the history and quirky details of the places she visits, so these were right up her alley (and of course, mine). We spent a lot of time in the evenings just catching up–well worth giving up some writing time.

Our tomatoes are also still producing like crazy, so yesterday, I froze some. It’s a simple process that my mom remembers my Great Aunt Marie doing many years ago. Just boil the tomatoes for ten seconds, then dunk them in cold water for at least ten seconds, and the skins peel right off! After that, they can be cut however you like, bagged, and frozen. I bagged five quart bags full, which should come in handy for a cooking day this winter!

And finally, the other reason I didn’t get much done on my WIP is that my brain is just not on writing–at least not fiction. Instead, it’s focused on things like researching water heaters, specifying French doors, learning about smart home devices like door locks. And writing down what I like for our new house. Once I finish, this will be like a requirements document in software, only for our new house. It will help our builder know what’s a change order (“That’s not in the book”) and will help us know if someone screws up (“The book said the pantry is supposed to be white” [that actually happened with our flip house]).

Tennessee Update: our builder was expecting to have the ridgetop leveled by tomorrow or Tuesday, so we’re heading down to check it out and stake out the exact location of the house later this week. Hope to have a better update and pictures next week!

What I’ve Been Reading: I am almost finished with the novel I started last week. It’s really good, so I’ll definitely be discussing it here. It’s also long, which is why I’m not yet finished.

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What I’ve Been Writing: As noted above, nothing! I really just need to start writing and see what the characters do. With the trip to Tennessee, I don’t know how much chance I’ll have to dig into the WIP, but who knows, stranger things have happened, and sometimes I do well writing away from home. So this week, I’ll just set a goal to write something–anything–in my WIP. However, this ROW80 round is coming to an end this week, and I just realized I already met my goals for the round! They were to finish the writing workshop I was taking, Holly Lisle’s How to Write Villains. I finished that about a month ago. The other goal was to finish a chapter in my WIP. I did that last week. Baby steps for the win! I will set goals for fourth quarter in a couple weeks, in time for October and ROW80 Round 4.

What about you–how has your week gone? Ever had one of those where it seemed you got nothing done, but when you thought about it, you actually got a lot done? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? I’d love to hear from you–please share in the comments!

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

Things are Getting Real

So I finally got around to fixing my email notifications for when I post a new blog. Back in May when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation went into effect, I realized my email notifications weren’t compliant–and I do have a few subscribers from the EU, so that’s a concern. I did not have time then to figure out how to make my email software compliant or find another solution, so I just disabled it temporarily.

Well, I finally buckled down and did the work, and I now have a new plugin (that’s add-on software, for non-techie folks). So if your email notification looked a little different today (and it should), that’s why.

As always, I would love it if you would let me know if you see anything that looks amiss!

The Front Elevation of our new house

Tennessee Update: this is where things are getting real! Once our builder received the final plans, he sent us a contract to sign. It didn’t lay out the money (but referenced his quote from December for that), but had an estimated start date of August 20! And an estimated finish date of June 20, 2019. My husband and I figure most custom builds go over budget (hopefully not by much) and over schedule, so don’t count on us moving then, but still… whoa, it’s finally happening!

We also got the loan contract from the bank, and that did list out the money… yikes! Not bad, and not a surprise, but still a little scary to see it all laid out. I need to go over those documents again, and email our loan originator with questions. She’s on vacation this week, so nothing much will happen until she gets back.

But while we’re waiting on that, I have plenty to do, starting with picking out windows. What’s fun about that is this is actually something I know a bit about–I spent almost eight years working as a graphic designer for a company that manufactures the vinyl for windows. So I know a lot of the terminology, and what features to look for. And of course, I’m especially familiar with all the benefits of vinyl! (I wrote some of the ad copy, too.) It’s been over 20 years since I left there, so I don’t know anyone who still works there other than a friend of my husband’s who works on the factory floor. I sent in a form on their website. They got back to me the next day with who their manufacturer is for Knoxville, and said they should be contacting me sometime next week. We may still end up going with whoever our builder typically uses, but I wanted to give my old company a chance, as I have had their windows in my current house for 15 (upstairs) and 25 (first floor) years, and they’ve been great.

The other thing I need to work on is to start looking at everything else, from siding to interior trim to electrical outlet locations, and make notes on what we want. I did this for our rental house fire restoration and renovation, and it was a big help to both us and the contractors. Sort of like a requirements document in software, that minimizes unknowns, and provides a reference if something isn’t done right, or to determine if something is a change request, or was part of the original specifications. It took me a whole weekend of doing nothing else to write up the spec book for the rental house; this one will take a good bit longer, spaced out over the next several weeks.

What I’ve Been Reading: A while back, I bought a one-year subscription to Dean Wesley Smith’s and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Fiction River anthology magazine, as it came with three of their online writing workshops and was a heck of a deal. I’m not a big reader of short stories, though I do like them from time to time, so mostly they just sat on my Kindle. I ran across the Wishes issue on my Kindle a few weeks ago, and nothing else had grabbed my attention, so I started reading it.

There were a couple stories I skipped right away. One was written in an odd, screenplay format that had an experimental feel to it that I didn’t like, and a couple others were in present tense, which I can’t stand. But the rest were pretty enjoyable, especially one called “How I Became a Fairy Godmother.” Oh–and all these stories were YA, so this would be a teenage fairy godmother! And the intro to it said that it’s a prequel to a series. Cool!

After last week’s not-so-great book, I was happy to grab One Bad Wish, by Bonnie Elizabeth. What a fun story! The main character finds herself in an unpleasant, alternate reality when she mistakenly grants a friend’s wish that her (the friend’s) brother hadn’t been born. And then she has to figure out how to undo the wish. If you like YA with some fun magical elements, definitely grab this one!

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What I’ve Been Writing: Big improvement here! I was planning to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day, for at least five days, working on my Villains workshop. Then I read some better ideas, one of which was Beth Camp’s suggestion of a 100-word challenge. I also read a great blog post by Natalie Bacon on motivation (well worth a read!), where one of her tips is to “measure what you produce.” By that, she means focus on what you want to accomplish, rather than just spending a certain amount of time. So for us fiction writers, that would be word count, scenes written, pages revised, etc. I decided to break the assignments in my workshop down into smaller tasks, and then planned to do one or two of those each night. And with that, I met my goal! Week 3 exercises are done, and Week 4’s started. So this week’s goal is to finish Week 4 exercises. There are six left, so that’s one per day, with a day off.

What about you–what big or small things are getting real in your life? Have you read anything good lately? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Do task-based or time-based goals work better for you? I will admit time-based goals still work for me when it’s something like housework! 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.

D-I-Yes You Can!

Things continue to move along at the rental house. My husband spent the day re-sanding the hardwood floors, to re-refinish them. I did running around to get supplies, and was also working on staining the rest of the shelves we’re going to put in the kitchen. They are going to be some really cool pipe shelves, made all the cooler because ours will be over the stove, and have the microwave installed beneath & between them, as shown to the right.

I have some of the pipes, and have the rest on order, so this project should be done and ready to install by next week. Next up is painting the U-shaped pantry shelves and the bench support for the mudroom, which will all be white.

The fact that I am doing this stuff amazes some people. And until about a year ago, it would have amazed me too, because it never would have occurred to me that I could. Painting and staining is no big deal; I actually stained every piece of trim in our second story when it was added on about fifteen years ago. There’s also a built-in bookcase; I stained the wood for that, too. Minwax and I have been good friends now for over fifteen years.

But it never would have occurred to me that I could design a project, or especially that I could cut and assemble it. Not until I discovered non-writing blogs last year (while not doing much writing), one of which was DIY Diva.

I found this on Pinterest, while I was looking for new house ideas–a blog post about how the author and her boyfriend built their own house from the ground up. The article was great. But what really drew me in was the writing.

I wound up reading her blog starting from her first post in 2004 (yep, she was an early adopter!) through the current one. Hers is some of the most witty, engaging, clever yet self-deprecating and just plain real writing that I’ve ever come across. For a good example, see her About page–for which the web address is diydiva.net/loose-screws/. LOL! I couldn’t stop reading that blog until I’d read every last post. Somewhere along the way, she convinced me that I could create and build things too. And I’m not the only one–plenty of times, I read in the comments how someone had been inspired to try building something because of reading her blog. And how this was one of the reasons she loves to blog–to empower others to create, and see that Yes, You Can.

Oh, and her blog was the first place I saw pipe shelves. Check out this master bedroom closet–so cool! Mine are much simpler, but I still think they will be a definite wow-factor in our house’s kitchen when it goes on the market.

She doesn’t blog often any more, but when she does, it’s still entertaining and engaging, and I smile every time I see a new post in my feed reader. So if you want some good, humorous reading with a bit of swearing and a good dose of Yes, You Can, check out DIYdiva.net.

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What I’ve Been Reading: I started a novel this week and am really enjoying it. I’ll blog about it next week after I’ve finished.

What I’ve been Writing: Finally! I managed to fit writing in two evenings, for a total of over 1,000 words. That doesn’t sound like much, but I’ll take it! So this week’s goal? Finish that scene!

How about you–have you ever read something that totally inspired you to do something you wouldn’t have before? Do you read blogs by people other than book-writers (because bloggers are writers too)? Either way, 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.

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. 🙂

Most people respected my request, though a few brought bottles of wine. I don’t mind those, 🙂 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.

Life Rolls

This has been a “life happens” week, one where I knew I would not get much writing done. Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch calls times like this “life rolls,” and all we can do is just roll with it.

I had some family stuff going on, most of which was expected. When this stuff wasn’t actively going on, it was stuff that still occupied thoughts and sapped my energy. This was also expected.

It wasn’t all bad stuff–in fact, most of it wasn’t. For one, it was my daughter’s 20th birthday. We kept the celebration simple, and everyone seemed fine with that.

On a different note, I updated my computer to Windows 10. So far I’m happy with it. It’s everything the reviews have promised–all the best features of Windows 7, plus the best features of Windows 8 (and none of those people hate). I especially like the new Microsoft Edge web browser. I’ve been a Google Chrome user for years because it’s much faster than Internet Explorer or Firefox, but Edge blows Chrome away. I have noticed a few weird things on websites that don’t work exactly like in the other browsers, but they are minor (for example, the drag and drop photo upload to WordPress. Just use the old-style browse to photos). Definitely worthwhile! If you do the upgrade though, be sure to allow it at least a couple hours–it took a good while on my Internet computer to move all the files and update everything. And yes, all my programs work so far, including Photoshop, of which my version is over 1o years old!

We got the living room set up pretty nice!

We got the living room set up pretty nice!

We spent all day today moving DD into the off-campus house near her university, where she’ll live the next two years. I spent most of the afternoon taking her shopping, and helping her do things like put up curtains and hang pictures, plus fix a couple small things in the house while DH took care of bigger things. Isis went along and supervised, but we were all so busy, no one got any photos of her.

What I read this week: I have not had time to read much more than a chapter or so each night, and am less than halfway through, so I’ll discuss this week’s book when I finish it.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal this week was to make the last few changes to my WIP and get it to my editor. That is DONE. However, I still need to get all the front matter and back matter, so that’s what’s on deck for writing this week.

What about you–have you had any “life rolls” recently? Or at least a “life happens” week? How long did it take you to get back in the swing afterward? If you’re a Windows user, have you upgraded to Windows 10 yet? How are you doing on whatever goals you might 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.