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Your Turn: Books for Earth Day

Tiger lilies in the front garden last year

Tiger lilies in the front garden last year

I’ve been on a long-weekend holiday with family, so just a quick blog post today. (ROW80 update at the bottom.)

Tomorrow is Earth Day, an event dating to the 1970s whose purpose is to draw attention to environmental concerns (like the more recent Earth Hour). I’ve written before about books for Earth Day, so this time I’d like to turn it over to you.

What books would be on your recommended reading list for Earth Day?

They can be cautionary tales from science fiction. They can be stories (fiction or otherwise) about living close to the land. They can be how-to books about urban farming. Or whatever…you decide. I’d love to hear from you!

ROW80 Updates

In writing news, I squeaked past my weekly goal of 1.5 hours. Back on track!

In renovation news:

  • the AC installation is finished — awaiting one final visit to turn on and “tune” the system
  • the drywall “bulkheads” are all painted — most to blend in, one to stand out (purple feature wall in the dining room!)
  • the kitchen has been used for cooking — it’s still missing some key pieces, like a dishrack and a garbage bin, but it’s getting there
  • the landscaping is continuing — the chain-link fence in the front and some “weed” trees have come down, and the beds in the front are all cleared of junk (and tulips are coming up!)

In exercise news, I’ve done:

  • lots of stair-climbing while cleaning up for family visit over Easter
  • lots of walking with family — 3 km Friday, 4 km Saturday, 2.2 km Sunday (and 3 km today, but that counts for the coming week)

I’m trying to gear up for a family hiking trip at the end of July, but this weekend’s walking has shown me I have a looong way to go!

 

ROW80 Round 2: Off to a Crazy Start

Welcome back to A Round of Words in 80 Days! My goals for Round 2 are here. Here’s how my first week went:

 Writing Updates

This part did not go so well. My goal for this round is 1.5 hours a week of writing or editing, and I only managed half of that. On the good side, it was all in one session, so I met the other part of my writing goal — to do at least one session of half an hour or longer.

And here’s why…

Renovation Updates

We’ve been living in shambles because we’re getting central air-conditioning installed (woohoo!). Every time I come home from work, there’s a new hole in a strange place, or metal pipes, or new drywall “bulkheads” covering the pipes. I don’t mind telling you this has been just slightly stressful. But they’ll be done this week, and then we can start getting the drywall dust out of everything and moving our mess back where it was…I mean, getting stuff organized.

In the meantime, I’m busy trying to figure out how to make the “bulkheads” look like they belong in the rooms, live out of suitcases because the bedroom closet had to be emptied, and sort out the curtains that we’re finally getting around to putting up.

Then there are two new projects that are just getting started. First is setting up a kitchen…today we cleared all the junk out of it, ceremonially turned on the fridge, and ordered the first load of groceries. (Next step is cleaning.) Second is landscaping, or rather, organizing other people to do landscaping — they’ve gotten as far as pulling out some scraggly roses and some rusted metal frames that the roses were tied to. Whew!

Exercise Updates

This week I have:

  • done 1 hour of yoga
  • climbed 9 flights of stairs twice (plus the regular stair-climbing I do during my subway commute and in my 2.5-storey home)
  • done 2 half-hour workout sessions in my exercise room at home (usually a random mix of cardio, stretching, and strengthening)
  • spent Friday evening and all of Saturday dancing

That last bit is not going to become a habit, alas, but I’m hoping the rest of it will, and I’ll add to it gradually.

I expect this coming week to be just as busy on the house front, and we have family coming for Easter weekend. But after that I’m really hoping to be able to focus more on the writing again.

Onward!

Why, Hello, Television — at Turtleduck Press

Just a quick note tonight to let you know that I’m blogging over at Turtleduck Press. Here’s a snippet. My household recently got Netflix and:

We haven’t been binging like most people do — one or two episodes a week is about all we watch. So far, at least. (My media addiction of choice is the Internet.)

So we’re catching up (very very slowly) on Doctor Who, Sherlock, and of all things, Buffy, which I never watched when it was on…and enjoying them all thoroughly.

Oddly enough, all of these series have some things in common, if you squint.

To find out what, and share the common themes in your own viewing, head on over to my post at Turtleduck Press.

I’ll be back on Sunday with a check-in on my ROW80 goals, and next week with some proper content. Miss you all. Enjoy!

 

ROW80 Round 2: Goals

Hello again! I’m signing up for another Round of Words in 80 Days. This round is set to run from April 7 to June 26, and I’ll be checking in every Sunday.

This year has turned into the Year of Making My Living Space Better. Not quite what I’d intended, but it’s a good reminder that I am not, in fact, a brain in a jar attached to a keyboard.

The current round falls during an especially busy time. I am (all while working full-time):

  • dealing with the tail end of renovations
  • setting up a kitchen (luckily not a super-urgent project)
  • trying to get my house generally organized and a teeny bit decorated because I’m tired of not paying attention to it and having it look like nobody cares
  • upgrading my front and back yards from “terrible mess” to “kind of pretty and really low-maintenance” — which involves some landscaping help and some gardening effort on my part

Therefore, my focus in this round will be on the above. I’m going to report on my progress every Sunday, mostly to remind myself that I am extremely busy and therefore I am not allowed to beat myself up for not getting other things done (like writing).

And, to go along with that “not a brain in a jar” thing, I am also going to report on my exercising progress. Currently I do an hour of yoga once a week and folk dance for an evening once every two weeks. I just set up an exercise room in my attic, so I’m adding calisthenics and more yoga. And the weather is finally turning to spring, so I’d like to add walking as well (fast walking when possible). No particular goals here — anything will be an improvement.

Finally, there’s writing. I don’t want to put my writing on pause completely, because in my experience, it’s a LOT harder to get started again once I get out of the habit. (I don’t write every day — right now it’s more like 3-5 days a week — but that’s a regular, hard-won habit that I don’t want to let slip.)

So my writing goal for this round is: to write/edit/outline for 1.5 hours a week, including at least one session of half an hour or longer.

Happy writing!

Conclusion of “Still Waters Run Deep” Is Posted

Just a quick post today, because I am so busy it’s ridiculous. Let this be a lesson to the wise: Do not try to juggle furniture and appliance deliveries from two stores, renovations (even if someone else is doing them), interior decorating, landscaping, shopping/errands/discussions to support all of the above, plus the usual life stuff, all at the same time. I feel like I’m doing NaNoWriMo except with Real Life.

Anyway!

I am thrilled to announce that the fifth and final installment of my fantasy serial, “Still Waters Run Deep”, is now available to read for free online at Turtleduck Press.

It’s set in a fantasy version of Thailand, and the whole thing runs about 10,000 words (technically known as a novelette). If you need to catch up on previous installments, you can find links to all of them at the top of this page.

For more about what’s in the works at Turtleduck Press, see here.

I’ll be back to proper blogging soon, I hope. In the meantime, please leave a comment to help beat back the tumbleweeds!

ROW80 Week 11 and Final Check-In

This is it — the end of this Round of Words in 80 Days! Well, technically there are a few more days left, but I’m only doing weekly check-ins, so this will be my last. It’s longer than usual because I’m also including a recap, so bear with me….

Writing Updates

This week Real Life kicked my butt. Don’t worry, nothing horrible happened…I’ve just been really busy and haven’t had a lot of brain left over for writing.

That said, I’ve still logged over an hour and written 900 words of a new scene on the next chapter of the novel edit, which is more than can be said of some weeks when Real Life happens, so yay.

Renovation Updates

The IKEA snafu has finally been sorted, the missing piece has been delivered, and assembly will be happening this week. Kitchen appliances are also being delivered this week, which means the kitchen will in theory be usable. Next steps: move out everything that’s currently being stored in the kitchen and the cupboards, put it all somewhere else, clean the room from top to bottom, and start setting it up for actual use!

My significant other and I spent much of the weekend buying curtains and sheers for the entire house (why yes, we’ve been living here with only jury-rigged window coverings for the past two years, why do you ask?). I think we’ve bought everything we need now…just need to check them out in the rooms where they’re going, to make sure the colours work the way I thought they would in the store.

(I had blinds growing up and we had blinds in the apartment where we lived before this, so neither of us has any experience with curtains. But we like the look of curtains better, especially in an old house like ours, so that’s what we’re going for. Gotta learn sometime, right?)

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time thinking about landscaping and browsing magazines for ideas, so that’s been taking up a lot of brain cycles. But I have to say it’s nice to be dreaming about spring despite the snow still on the ground!

ROW80 Final Recap

Back in my original ROW80 post, I declared 2014 to be the Year of Priorities, AKA Project: Making Space. I wrote:

I’m taking a step back, refocusing and recommitting to what it is I really want to do with myself. Which is write.

Specifically, I want to make more space for my writing. I hear myself constantly complaining about how busy I am. My house is cluttered so there’s no room to think. The Internet is an ever-present demon. And the writing I am getting done feels like it has stagnated because I’m not sinking into it as deeply as I could be.

I think that has kind of backfired. I’m still super busy…though at least now the focus has shifted from nebulous computer-related things (like before) to making my real-life space better. My house is still cluttered, but I’m moving towards having more usable space, which has got to help eventually.

I’m also making headway on decor, which is also a worthy goal — I deserve a beautiful space! (To be clear I’m not talking about a perfectly clean and Pinterest-worthy space, but one that makes my heart happy.)

My original ROW80 writing goal was to spend 5 hours a week writing and/or editing.

I fell short of that — my average was more like 3 to 3.5 hours, and I only hit 5 hours once (last week!). But it started at around 2 to 2.5 hours, so the amount of writing gradually crept up from week to week. That’s worth something too.

What’s Next

I’m seriously thinking of signing up for ROW80 again. I found it helpful for keeping myself moving, if not always on track.

The next round (April 7 to June 26) will encompass a time when I expect to be seriously busy with Real Life stuff — mainly getting the kitchen and yard/garden up and running — so there may will not be a lot of writing. But I’d like to encourage myself to keep moving on the writing, even just a little bit.

It’s also helpful to look back on my own updates about Real Life and remind myself that hey, I really was busy and no, I’m not slacking off (take that, nasty little voice in my head).

Your turn! If you’re doing ROW80, how did this round go? If not, how about those New Year’s resolutions? Do the critical voices in your head help or hinder you?

Home Stretch on the ROW80 Week 10 Check-In

This is the second-last update I’ll be making for this Round of Words in 80 Days. Can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Regular reporting has helped keep me accountable, so I’m going to sign up for the next round as well (starts April 7). If you’re thinking of joining, let me know so I can be sure to cheer you on.

On to the updates…

Writing Updates

My original ROW80 goal was 5 hours a week of writing or editing (fiction only — not counting blogging). Due to Life, I had to revise that goal down to 3.5 (a handy goal because the math is so easy). Most weeks I managed between 3 and 4 hours. Well…this week I finally hit 5!

Even better, I finally conquered a chapter that’s had me stymied for waaaaay too long. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s good enough for now (this is the second draft, not the last draft) and I am MOVING ON. Oh, and today I got to write a really nasty cliffhanger. That was fun. Whoever said writers were nice people?

Another goal was to start putting a little more effort into this blog. I wrote two non-ROW80 posts this past week — My Writing Process and Winter Elegy — which hasn’t happened since last month, so go me!

Renovation Updates

The IKEA snafu still isn’t sorted — they were supposed to call us last week and didn’t, so we need to follow up this week.

However, we braved the cold weather to go to Home Depot (in a blizzard!) and order some appliances for the upstairs kitchen (we’re in a shared housing arrangement). Those are getting delivered in two weeks, so soon we’ll have no excuse to keep avoiding the cleaning that needs to happen in that kitchen to make it usable. I’m looking forward to having our own kitchen again and getting back to more independence.

We’re also making headway on drapes — a kind friend has offered to hem them for us (we are, sadly, about as far from DIYers as one can get), and we now know more or less what we want, so in the next couple of weeks we need to go buy all the curtains. Yay?

And finally, we’re looking into getting help with beating our front and back yards into shape come spring. More about that soon!

Making Headway on the ROW80 Week 9 Check-In

We’re heading into the final stretch of ROW80! How are all of you fine folks doing?

Writing Updates

Last week, I said I wanted to start putting a little more effort into this blog. In case you missed it, I wrote a travel post about visiting Rajasthan, India — with photos taken by yours truly.

I’m also finally making headway on the novel edit, I think. I had Friday off work and put in a good 2 hours, for a total of 3 hours this week. Not as much as I wanted, but (a) I also had to deal with a furnace issue on Friday and a very full Saturday, and (b) I’m focusing on staying positive and celebrating what I do get done rather than beating myself up for what I don’t do. So…three hours, yay!

Renovation Updates

We’re still sorting out the IKEA snafu, and busy researching ranges and drapes. So nothing visible is happening, but plenty behind the scenes. Which has been true of the novel as well, come to think of it!

At least we’re making good use of the newly finished attic / exercise room…which is really the point of renovating anyway, right?

 

Upping the Ante on the ROW80 Week 8 Check-In

How are you all doing? We’re heading into the final month of this round. Anyone tackling NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) in March?

Writing Updates

I finished out February with 14.5 hours of writing/editing, mostly on my novel edit-in-progress. My February goal was either 14 or 15 hours  (I said different things in different places), so I’m calling that a win.

Last week I raised my goal slightly to 4 hours of writing/editing from 3.5, and hit it. I’m shooting for 4 hours again this week, and a goal of 20 hours by the end of March.

As for actual progress, this week I edited Part 5 of my fantasy serial, “Still Waters Run Deep”. It’ll be posted at Turtleduck Press next month.

Also, I now have my crit partners’ responses all the way through the end of the novel. I’m just starting to dig into the responses and figure out what to do with them. So there’s still a lot of outlining and brainstorming and various other forms of thinking on paper (or rather, onscreen), and not much actual prose happening. I’m still worried that this isn’t getting me anywhere fast — I can brainstorm endlessly and still not have a story — but at least I’m slowly increasing the time I spend at the keyboard.

In other news, I’ve kind of neglected the blog in the past couple of months. I’d like to start putting a little more effort into it again, with one longer post, one shorter post, and one #ROW80 update per week.

Renovation Updates

The renovating efforts have slowed down this week, but we now have the necessary electrical wiring to put in a stove and a fridge in the upstairs kitchen. The furniture assembly isn’t quite finished due to some snafus with IKEA, so that has to get straightened out before we can organize the kitchen. Cold weather has made us disinclined to go out and buy stuff, so we’re still bumbling along with everything half-finished. Grr argh.

Still…onward!

 

Chugging Along with the ROW80 Week 7 Check-In

How are you all doing this week? Did you get up early to watch the hockey game? (I didn’t, but an awful lot of people I know did. We Canadians take our hockey seriously.)

Writing Updates

Writing continues to chug along. I’ve hit 3.5 hours for the second week in a row, meaning I’m on track to hit 14 hours this month. It’s not a lot, but it’s more than I’ve done in a month since November and also more consistent than I’ve been since then, so go me!

This is my second week working on a novel edit that got shelved mid-draft, so I’m starting to dig deeper into the material. It’s only the second draft and I’m a pantser, so there’s a lot of digging still to go. I can only hope I’m getting somewhere….

This week I’m setting the bar a little higher and aiming for 4 hours.

Renovation Updates

This past week we’ve finally made some headway on getting the upstairs kitchen operational (my significant other’s parents live with us, and we’ve been sharing a kitchen). We have:

  • met with a guy about electrical upgrades (to happen this coming week) that will mean we can get a stove and fridge for the upstairs kitchen
  • started clearing out / cleaning the kitchen (which, not being in use, naturally became the “junk” room)
  • assembled some IKEA furniture, for the kitchen and elsewhere, that will help with storage (one of our biggest challenges)

Also, this is not exactly about renovations, but we’ve used the newly set up exercise room most days this week. Go us!