A Garden of Delights

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I think I have an aversion to days off with my family.  Well, not really an aversion—I just…  become non-functional when one comes up.  Usually it’s a migraine.   Sometimes it’s a lack of sleep the night before (okay, so that’s really my fault; but there’s just this feeling of relaxation and indulgence I get as a “special” day comes up…  I tend to stay up and read or enjoy a favorite show).

Today it was a migraine.

That said…  it worked for us this time.  Because we didn’t hurry out for the original plan of heading out to “do all the things”, my awesome hubby was able to spend some time looking through reviews of local eateries and sights while I indulged in bed with a dark cool cloth over my eyes.  And afterward we went out for a lovely drive through the Heldebergs, a visit to the local Irish import store for puddings and biscuits, a super yummy early dinner at The Saloon (their food is great; their website…  not so much).

I also discovered a local Irish tea and cake shop where I can do some writing on occasion.

Some very small silver linings on what has been a difficult day for many people I know and love.

As for writing?  I’ve done that.  Been maintaining the website, getting in some exercise too.  Had to order another battery for my laptop yesterday…  donated a bunch of LEGO/Duplo toys to the library yesterday.  Getting a lot done, but very little of it has been stuff I’d planned on doing.

Sometimes plans really put a crimp in…  well, in one’s plans, and the only way to deal with that is to start doing what needs to be done and make a new plan on the fly.

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This is just a quickie update post in a brief pause of Cray-cray.  I’d ask why I always do this to myself but as was once sung in Oklahoma…  I’m just a girl who can’t say no.

So news?  NaNoWriMo, volunteering at my son’s school (and for other group efforts), keeping up with massive reading lists, the ROW80 website, holiday prep…

Yeah, I got this.  🙂

As I said last week, I’ve done a lot of reading lately.  Different  genres, authors, size works….  This weekend I finally dipped my toes into the ocean that in James Patterson’s body of work.

Basically, I had to test out the hype for myself.

Now, I do have to confess that these works, two of the Bookshots series to be exact, were only co-authored by Patterson; they were also of a very different style than I normally read.  So to say I didn’t find myself as enthralled as I hoped I would be by the works of this mainstream master isn’t me trying to be critical of his work.

More it was me trying to be critical of myself.

I wanted to understand why I never read any of Patterson’s work (or Nora Roberts or… insert name of best-selling author here).  I often actively avoid such books, preferring to try someone with a smaller backlist or an author I’d never heard of before when I go looking to try something new.   So, yeah…  it was definitely about understanding the hype, but also wondering what made me avoid the “popular” books.  Was it years of high school angst that made me fear messing with the In-crowd.  Did I just inherently dismiss it all as booorr-ing mainstream fluff while the read “deep” things were being done behind closed doors in band and by the kids doing AP Bio and French?

Maybe…  Though also, knowing that many of Patterson’s works were highly action-driven stories, I wanted to see some of that writing style… well, in action.

The lessons I learned, as well those from last week’s foray into Barbara Pym’s and Sir Walter Scott’s works (Crampton Hodnet and Excellent Women as well as The Talisman and Ivanhoe respectively) and my feast of Denise Swanson’s Scumble River detective stories (one a day keeps me at the library) are…

  • putting down a Bookshot book is easy, almost as easy as Ivanhoe, but not nearly as satisfying to pick up again
  • if I’d known about Pym’s works sooner, I’d be a serious Austenite instead of the half-hearted one I am now.
  • I need a series.  Seriously…  if I can’t follow characters through several books (or seasons if it’s a video thing), then it better be a very long book
  • most contemporary fiction characters do not act the way I would write them acting but many of the more classical characters do
  • there’s not much action in an action scene…  at least in a Bookshot

There’s more of course.  But this post is getting long already and I still have a ROW80 check-in to finish.

So, how’d I do?

  • I didn’t quite manage the daily note in my journal.  Some days I didn’t really write anything except texts to be honest.
  • Devouring books however was right on course.  Saturday morning I returned 18 finished books (including the four listed above) to the UHLS and two to the MHLS.  As my interlibrary loan requests were still in transit, I picked up a few books from the books sale and freebies racks to tide me over.  Finished three of those and now working on a romance by a fellow member of our local RWA chapter.
  • I think this definitely qualifies as a mini-post about books I’ve read, though it definitely can’t be called a review
  • have not set anything into motion at the ROW80 blog, though I did have last weeks posts up on schedule for a change
  • and no outline for ‘Listii’s story…  silly man is trying to urge me to return to the Swan Song Series books instead of focusing on him, so I’ve outlined and replotted that

Pretty much all my stuff so far.  This coming week is bound to be extra hectic, so I am probably not going to be posting on Wednesday.  Just sayin’.

 

For my Sunday ROW80 post, I mentioned a bit of how day seem to become a blur that I mostly note only in my travel journal and how this is sometimes a good thing.  I stand by that, though to be honest, sometimes I wish I didn’t.

For writing, the blur feels especially useful, but it only works in tandem with a solid journaling practice.  With the blur, days pass by allowing regular stresses and annoyances to fade to a dull roar at worst, and often into obscurity.   The recorded bits in the journal highlight remarkable or otherwise somehow significant moments which come to life once more in the words and images I’d created.

Pretty much like a book should come across, imho.

Yes, there are occasional great stories out there that describe a character’s daily actions in explicit detail, but rarely do even these dwell on the minutiae for long.  Once the significance of the action the author wants us to recognize is made clear, the action moves on wooshing past the little things and onto what really matters to the story.

Likewise, the journal entries record those things that matter.  The smile that stood out of a crowd and made a day feel so much nicer, the raw moment when everything seemed to just fall apart, but stuff needed to be done no matter what, so that’s what I did.

These are the things that I know I read for, be the moment as fantastic as a life or death escape from a rampaging dragon or dealing with a tween whose heart is breaking because the cute girl in class didn’t sit with him a second time in a row.

The rest is merely a blur.

Returning to the ROW80…  it’s time for a check-in.

I wish I could say everything is roses, but actually, I staggered on my daily writing (did two days of three) and, beyond some serious daydream planning, haven’t touched the outlining for ‘Listii’s new story (fortunately he’s a pretty easy-going guy).  All else seems on track.  Will see you all on Sunday.

A ROW80 Goal Post

A few months ago, I had a plan.

Actually, I’ve had plans and been executing them, step-by-step, most of the time I have not posted here.  Life has been…  well, Life.  Crazy, unpredictable, sometimes hellish, sometimes wonderful—mostly it’s been a blur that I remember only through looking over notes and drawings in my travel journal.  Maybe this is a good thing….  a topic I think I will try to develop into a real post for my Wednesday ROW80 check-in.

We’ll see.

You may wonder why I say “We’ll see” when I am writing up (albeit late) my list of goals for the Round of Words in 80 Days challenge.  After all, shouldn’t I be committing to regular posts and improving my writing?

The answer is “probably”.  Lately though, beyond my maintenance of the ROW80 site and blog, I’ve spent more of my word-related headspace in reading.  Some video time, but mostly reading and learning what appeals to me as a consumer of stories.  I’ve found that I run through an average-sized cozy in a day, I love a series, and that I’m the kind of reader (and watcher) who should never start a series when it’s new—if I have to wait for the next book… I may never return to it.

I do need to return my attention to some writing output however.  Which is why I’m making this post.

So here goes, my (8-week now) plan for the ROW80 challenge:

  • a daily note of something that has happened (journal)
  • continue to devour books
  • a once-a-week post about the books I’ve read
  • continue work on the ROW80 blog
  • outline (this first week) and then rough draft the new story that has been tossing in my head about one of ‘Listii’s covert missions

It’s not a great list.  It’s just a start…  long term goals don’t really work for me.  That’s something else I’ve discovered in my lull from posting.  Neither do breaks…  I need to maintain a consistency of scheduled events or the clutter of Life’s demands takes over and I lose sight of the place I’m trying to get to.  My ROW80 goals are as much a daily thing as anything, but I’ll be updating them weekly.

And maybe that more than anything is my goal for this Round of Words.  Be achieve some consistency in Life.

This post is just a ROW80 check-in.  It’s not that things haven’t been happening in my life of late; it’s that life have been so very rich that there’s no attempting to “catch up” without losing pace with all the upcoming things we have planned here at Chez Mabee.

It’s one hell of a place to be.  😉

What has been suffering is the progress I hoped to make on my ROW80 goals.  I’ve been mostly keeping up with the Big Four I posted back in July (the writing has suffered, sadly, but I think as much because my brain has been in a refill-mode as opposed to a pouring-mode…  I’ve read a lot as well as discovering cool new shows to watch).  However, I have not posted here to add any secondary-goals or maintained any tracking of my progress…  or (worst of all), I have not actually visited any of my fellow ROWers.

So, time to get my propel progress beyond my inner life and out into the real world where accountability is key.  To boot, I’m adding a secondary goal of processing 10 photos in my archive drive, because I’ve decided that I’m going enter some into art shows next year, and I need to start figuring out which photos I want to use and how to best prepare and present them.

Exciting times!  Hope you’re all looking forward to new adventures too.

I gave all my money to a cult today.

Well, technically I had lunch with my husband and son and paid the tip with all the cash I had on me, but we didn’t realize that the restaurant we’d gone to was run by the Twelve Tribes.  Which is weird…  I’d looked up their website several times before we went (we live in a very rural area, so finding a decent selection of local eats beyond the local grocery has been a challenge, especially since our favorite pizzeria burned down two years ago), and somehow missed that bit of information.

To be fair to the group, they weren’t hiding anything, on the web or in the restaurant (look up the Yellow Deli in Oak Hill if you’re curious, and before you ask… yes, the food was yummy and the restaurant was beautifully decorated, but no, I don’t think we’ll be going there again, not even for those pictures of the place I’d wanted to take).  I was just somehow dense or blind.

But something about the place felt odd, and after a lot of discussion with hubby (who usually is pretty good at finding out creepy stuff and somehow didn’t either), I looked again and suddenly finding the nasty stuff was easy peasy.

But no matter!  This post, being my weekly ROW80 check-in, is about more than my weird lunch…  it’s about my writing goals and my (debatable) progress.  I could have wished for a more productive week as far as my goals had been planned.  But I accomplished a huge amount of unplanned-for stuff that needed to be done on short notice.

Specifically, I didn’t do much weeding out of extra paperwork; if anything, I added a bunch with all the notes and research that filled this week.  In doing so, I read two books from my research stack, Radium Girls by Kate Moore and The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and got ¼ through The Faithful Executioner by Joel Harrington.  Oh!  I got some incredible answers for some worldbuilding conundrums I’d been trying to figure out.  (And I did get rid of some extra fluff.)

So win in my book…

The rest of my goals need more due diligence this upcoming week.  I did write every day, but only three days involved new story.  My walking schedule was equally sporadic, and often devolved into stepping in place before bed because I missed the goal all day. But best for last… my house-cleaning goal has been a resounding success even with the busy week, with tons of laundry, vacuuming, dusting and closet-clearing achieved. 😀

And I even took some awesome pictures of our week of fog, the mini-maker faire my son was involved in, and some lovely baby horses at a nearby farm, like the two pics in this post.


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

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