A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

I could have written my ROW80 (and my WWW Wednesday) check-in yesterday.  Instead…  I hit the library almost first thing in the morning, and by the time 6:30pm had passed, I’d already read the next of the Victoria Thompson Gaslight Mysteries that I’d picked up and had started the next one (I have 15 pages left on that).

Clearly, I’ve been on a huge reading binge lately.

Not so much a writing one.  Except for my blogging progress and a few new words on Courting and Marche (the 1st and 3rd books of the Swan Song Series), I haven’t written much of anything.  Haven’t even touched 750words since last Wednesday.  Have opened Scrivener and looked through stuff, read some research articles…

And had a lot of sick-kid and now kid-school related things to deal with since last Thursday night.

I could have written my post yesterday, but I needed to escape a bit.  And while reading about NYC murders in the late 1890s might not seem like escapism…  it was a divine one.

I have another six books fresh from the library waiting for me, calling my name.

I probably should have written those posts.  But I didn’t.

I did write this one.

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Check?

Posted on: January 16, 2018

I wasn’t going to post anything here for the ROW80, had planned to just make a brief check-in at the Facebook page.  Sometimes it’s hard to feel like I’ve accomplished anything real.  Or…  if I’ve felt any amount of excitement about things I’ve done, the fact that I was excited meant I’d already shared them somehow (such as my recent Stream of Consciousness Saturday post) or my excited FB post on Thursday about the awesome creative burst I’d had while writing my 750 words.

So…  what to write without becoming repetitive?

Well, there is the fact that I haven’t missed a day of writing at 750words.com since my Wednesday check-in.  Tr, I haven’t always achieved the full 750, but Thursday I exceeded with 803, and on no day did I achieve less than 300.  If I counted all the words I typed while blogging and visiting/commenting, I’d be well-over every day, but I don’t feel right adding those.

I’ve maintained consistency in my blogging as well.  And my reading (though that hasn’t been as fast as I’d like).  My real downfall though, is my creative writing output.

Some of this is a lack of “office”…  as in, I have a pretty nice computer and desk (and an “OK” chair), but my husband, who  works from home, now occupies the office.  He likes to listen to interviews and talk (or tv shows).  I need music…  particularly repetitive songs (usually loud) to zone out on and be with my characters.

Just a tree by a ditch

It’s not fair to ask him to leave, or even smart. He’s actually earning a paycheck with what he’s doing, while I’m struggling to connect with my characters most of the time, playing solitaire while I ponder plot points.

So…  I’m looking for that elusive creative space and working on what I can in the interim.

Another Wednesday…

Time for another…

2018 ROW80 Check-in WWW Wednesday

Post

(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

You can see I am making serious progress on that old consistency thing…

First things last and last things first, let’s go with WWW Wednesday where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently? I’m still slowly plowing through Gun, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  I appreciate Diamond’s intelligence, and I enjoy the actual subject matter, but…  maybe my head just isn’t in it at the moment.  Sometimes I really just want to dive into escapism and mystery, and I have a lot of that on my reading list of late.  I’m also reading Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore by Rose Pressey.  I can’t even say why to be honest.  I read the first two books of the series and liked them “enough”, but didn’t feel I loved them.  But here I am reading #3.  It’s kind of like the Charlie Plato books, I think.  I like just-enough-to-keep-going in them.

Recently? I finished Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber.  It was a revelation.  I totally understand now about how she became a bestselling author.  It’s called a romance, and it is…  but the love interest was Life Itself.  A tale of four women and life…  I really enjoyed it.  Also, I decided to surrender to my inner mule and read that second book in Margaret Chittenden’s Charlie Plato mysteries: Dean Men Don’t Dance.  It was hard to get into, but I guess the heroine, Charlie, is growing on me.  And Monday evening, I finished The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carla, a cozy with lots of chocolate trivia interspersed between the covers.  Oh, and a very gorgeous cat named Yonkers…

Next?  It’s pretty sad.  I can repeat my last week list because I moved a bunch of new books into their places: still have the next Molly Murphy mystery Death of Riley, Dear Life by Alice Munro, and the other eight books waiting for me at the library.  Never made it there.  First the weather didn’t hold out, and then I got sick.  It’s where I’m heading as soon as this gets posted.

*Update…  there were eleven books waiting for me, two of which were 600+ page books by Caleb Carr.  Yeah…  I’ve got some reading to do.


Now as far as my ROW80 progress is going…  pretty much good stuff.  Not a lot of new fiction…  I’m actually going to have a problem writing a WIPpet Wednesday post on Many Worlds because I’ve written so little except mind-dumping into 750words.  I didn’t write there on Monday and only wrote 600 of the words yesterday, but in all, more days than not came with some words.

The words weren’t story related, but I do see places where I might eventually evolve the feelings and ideas into characters or their reactions.  My husband and I have also been having some wonderful discussions about characters in shows we like to watch and some books we’ve traded.  It’s interesting to see how his perception of an event and mine differ and how what we believe is “normal” sometimes seems way off from what the writers seem to think it should be.

I’m starting to see why I used to get critiques that said “Why would she do that?  No one would do that!”; all the while I was thinking…  I have, or that I knew someone who did.

World-building…

And that is a topic for another day.  Saturday, to be exact, since our local RWA Chapter is hosting a World Building discussion at the East Greenbush library.  Hoping I can go, but it depends..  my son is participating in Future City at his school, and the local competition is happening this Saturday morning until late afternoon.  There’s a future city idea…  a way to safely clone one’s self just long enough to be in two places at one time and not harm the clone person in the returning of the mind/memories to the original person.  I have a feeling that idea is a long time in coming.

If you could design your perfect futuristic self, what would one thing you could do then be?

It’s nearing the end of the year.  Almost the end of another Round of Words in 80Days (a writing challenge I help host), as that ends on Wednesday.

As I look both forward and back, I’m struck by the resistance I’ve developed to blogging in general.  Maybe it’s that I handle three blogs now (the ROW80, here, and my “writing blog” Many Worlds from Many Minds)…  Maybe it’s the fear that nothing I have to post is really that interesting, or the knowledge that there are so very many voices out there already, that mine just doesn’t matter.

Thing is, I love to create…  stories, art, impressions.  And just because I grew up hearing “Hush, no one needs to hear your mouth run”, doesn’t mean there is nothing worth hearing in what I have to say.  I’ve been slowly learning to accept that my voice matters and that really…  there are people who really enjoy it.

But it’s been a slow process.  Part of the problem is the simple truth that there are so many other voices out there, speaking at the same time.  It’s no one’s fault.  We all deserve to be heard, but because it gets hard to rise out of the cacophony, failure can seem so absolute… so inevitable.  And truth be told, we’re not taught in all the lessons on how to promote ourselves effectively to actually promote ourselves effectively.  Yes, being the squeaky wheel does work well for some, but despite having the nickname of Mouse (actually the Mouse that Roared) for many years, I would rather not be known for how loud I can be… or the lengths I might go to make myself heard.

At least, if I feel I need to scream aloud, I want to know that no one has gotten sick of listening.  😛

What does all this have to do with blogging?  Or my resistance to it?

Well, I realize after a few years of trying to keep up with social media, trying to be that voice of so many, calling out in the wilderness, that the frantic scrambling for my pie of internet pie just felt… wrong.  No criticism to those who do it and enjoy it.  Some people out there have amazing social skills and just rock online interaction.

I’m just not one of them.

What I am is a person who needs to have a plan in place and follow it religiously.  If I don’t follow it religiously, my inner sloth takes over and lets all the squirrels in (actually, I think she just doesn’t get to the door in time).  And best if I am doing something for someone else.  When I need to do things for myself, it’s easy to let them slide…  tomorrow is fine.  Or maybe next week, next year.

If I know someone else needs something though…  I’ll jump.  If my teachers during my school years had only made it clear to me how much they needed me to study and do my homework, instead of suggesting that it was all for me, I’d probably be on my second PhD and developing some world-changing discovery in a secret laboratory somewhere now. (Though…  would you really know if I wasn’t?)

So instead of blogging less, I suspect, I need to blog more.  Certainly more consistently…  I need to participate in the mutual exchange of comments and challenges.  Not just the ROW80, but the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) and post to bloghops like the WeWriWa and WIPpet via Many Worlds.  I just need to set my schedule clearly without trying to be always “out there”.  A solitary post per month on schedule is far better than a binge of posts followed by a dearth of them, which has been my recent pattern.

Next week will be the ROW80 “goals post”, and the half-formed plan I have for the future should be more-fully developed by then, so I’ll post it then.  The consistency of the ROW80 has been very good for my creative side, even when I’m not always prompt with my posts.  I intend to make even better use of my check-ins…  though I suspect I’ll be streamlining the process in certain ways.

For this week, I’m clearing some books from my TBR list.  I just finished a bag fill of mysteries, procedurals and romances that partly tweaked my interest, partly needed to be read for writing research.  I’m slogging my way through the new opening of Courting in the Swan Song Series.  It almost feels harder because of what is at stake here…  my membership change in the RWA and a Golden Heart entry. The holidays aren’t helping…  this year is coming with its own emotional burdens, but I haven’t dealt well with this season.  Too many personal losses….

Still…  plugging away.

 

 

SPAM

Posted on: June 6, 2017

Actually, I do love Spam (the canned meat product, not the stuff in my inbox ).  Though if it was the only thing for breakfast, I’d have to pass.  There’s a lot of cleanup involved in spam.  I’ve spent the last few days deleting bunches of it.

Some of it is pretty funny, and if I’m ever in need of an ego boost or am feeling poorly about the quality of my blog posts, all I need do is check the spam folder.  The fawning, often incoherent, compliments begging me to contact the spammer to “help” them sign up to my blog feed never fail to amuse.

The best spam comes when the spammer posts huge compilations of facts, most true, gleaned from around the web and offers it up like an encyclopedia of the odd and obscure.  I actually read those.  I don’t keep them or post them, but some part of me just loves fact-checking those gems.

This, however, was meant to not deal with spam, but be a ROW80 check-in post.  Though, if I’d had any sense, I’d have used one of my goals as “clean out the spam”, because it needed it, and then I could also say “Yay!  I’m getting things done.”

I am getting things done though too.  Now that JuNoWriMo has started, I’m in full swing:writing every day, sometimes over 2K.  I’m also kicking butt on the reading end of things, with my latest acquisition being Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West.  I’m not too far into it yet, but already I’m gathering some great impressions for The Swan Song Series: Marche.  Especially the opening chapter at the frontier and battlefront.

That’s about it.  I have to head out not (into the deluge) for my son’s LEGO club.  Keep writing!

Back From…

Posted on: May 23, 2017

Old cemeteries can be fun…

Oh…  many places—and times!—can’t forget about the very many time periods I just visited these past few weeks.

I thought I might be able to get around to a quick video/photo blog post while I was in England the past near-month, but…  even doing a quick Facebook photo post was often more than I could pull off easily.  Internet things were not the way I’d anticipated they would be in the the UK after over 10 years.  Ten years ago, the internet was spotty, but predictable.  You plugged your phone into the outlets at the hotel and waited most of the night for your photos to make the long journey across the ocean to home.

These days, you could do things faster, but the photos were generally bigger (and I took a LOT more of them) and things were wireless.  The hotels expected most people to have their own cell phones with basic connections, so oddly enough, internet access was even more spotty.  I did have a usable cellphone there with 3G service (as a non-resident, getting service with 4G and tethering/hotspotting was more of a PITA than I wanted to deal with, so our Pokémon Go use was limited to visits in Starbucks and Wetherspoons (what Elizabeth Anne and I affectionately call the Applebee’s of the UK) where we could get The Cloud or BT_Wifi.

I never thought I would miss Google Starbucks, but…  having an 11 year-old with his heart set on capturing a Mr. Mime (he saw one but never got close enough to catch it) brought out how nice it was to have our US wireless setups the way we do.  Of course, I was an idiot and mis-understood when my husband explained to me how our emergency back-up phone was supposed to work, which made this all the worse.  Ting does have a way to use its service overseas and we’d set our son’s phone up as “if we can’t get anything else, we can use this” device.  It seemed a reasonable thing to do for a $5 surcharge for the month.  Thing is…  calls would have been outrageous cost-wise.

First night in London, we went HERE

But…  it seems data wouldn’t have been.  I could have let the Boodle get online once in a while to try capturing the European exclusive Mr. Mime Pokémon.  Thankfully the Boodle said he had a wonderful time despite this (he’s already making plans for our ‘next trip’ and he hasn’t mentioned Pokémon at all, but he has mentioned several castles and historic ruins he wants to see).

I really don’t know how to describe how wonderful (and how frustrating at times) this trip was.  I thought I was going with few expectations, since I knew how different it would be to make this trip with my son after so many years away.  But I did have expectations… as did the Boodle.  They didn’t ruin the trip, but sometimes things were a bit harder because of them.  We  discovered that our interests aren’t as in sync as we’d both have liked (prime examples: the Boodle is quite obsessed with Stratford-upon-Avon and waking up late, while I found Stratford too touristy and wanted to up and out the door early to See All The Things!).

It would easily take as many weeks as we were in England to describe all the amazing things we did and experienced there.  I know my favorite parts, even with all the other parts being so good, were the three visits with fellow writers (fellow ROWer Alberta Ross and fellow WIPpeteers: Kate Frost and Elaine Jeremiah).  But there was also meeting Ann, caretaker of the Witley Court Facebook page and site staff; Marta, site archaeologist at Vindolanda; Issac and Rachel, the boy and his mother we met at Dover Castle and spent and evening playing on gun turrets and playgrounds and finally enjoying dinner with next to the English Channel…

How can one put the awesomeness of this sort of experience into a blog post?

I don’t think I could, and I’m not even going to try.  I will just leave you with one of our final views (well, except for the sushi bar at Heathrow airport) of England…  a view down the pond of St. Jame’s Park in London (we were almost, but not quite to Buckingham Palace when I took this picture) looking toward the Thames, the London Eye and 10 Downing Street.  Next week I’ll talk all about the writing I didn’t do while I was ‘across The Pond’.  😉

As the sights fade away…

 

Life in limbo

At least, that’s how things seem to be lately.  I mean, yes, I’ve been doing things…  lots and lots of ‘things’.  Most of those things involve time and activities with the Kidlet and the Hubby.  And paperwork…  lots and lots of paperwork too.

Emotionally I am in a bit of a funk because I realized (with some chagrin) that I’ll likely never achieve my dream of becoming a citizen of the UK.  Want doesn’t really play a part in it…  I mean, I want to very much.  But logistically, I am not in a position to do such a thing and probably won’t be for so long that the feasibility of such a move goes down the toilet.

At least I get to live there vicariously for a few weeks at the end of this month.  🙂

But dreams of England aren’t the only things I’ve considered.  Dreams of story are too.  Trying to find them again, trying to reconnect to worlds that seem to be happy to fade into a distance of paying bills, planning budgets, driving, shopping for heavy-duty archeology trowels…  and other people’s stories.  Oh, that last one is actually a killer.  I once thought I needed to read and see what others were writing and doing to fill my head with ideas and options, but… no.  The more I immerse myself into the worlds of others (often without much enjoyment even), the harder it is to connect with my characters.

They’re like cats that way.  They don’t take snubs well, and they don’t seem to get the idea that I’m just spending time elsewhere so I can be a better writer of their stories.  I’m not even sure they care if I write their stories, just as long as I am dutifully enthralled by them.  There’s a reason I used to think that Alanii’s alter-ego with feline.  He’s corrected me on this matter many times, but…  my cats are more like puppy-dogs than he is.

Which is why I took so long before setting out my ROW80 goals (today is officially the first day of Round 2 and I am just getting around to writing this post up)…  I am still not sure what my goals are.  I know how to set my goals, how to make them S.M.A.R.T., but I don’t know what I actually want to focus on or even achieve these days beyond get the “next thing done”.  There seem to be so many next things, that I am driven to distraction just trying to get through a day.  And when I do have those free moments that I once would have used for Those Five Sentences, I don’t write…  I space out.

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me.


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

Short Stuff

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