Here’s What’s Up: Life is Going On

Hey there folks, how are you doing today? What new things have you been able to embrace during this struggle to overcome the SARS-CoV2 virus and its threat of Covid-19? What can you embrace that you might be overlooking?

I am embracing the time to focus on changing some habits, like being better about getting dishes done sooner than later. I’m also trying to embrace less grocery shopping and healthier picks when I go. Since it’s better to reduce exposure I don’t just go to the store when I feel a craving and have the money (CHIPS CHIPS CHIPS!). I’m also more likely to eat what I have instead of focus on what else I might be able to have. For example, I might say sure I have bread and tuna fish and mayo, so I could make a tuna fish sandwich but I would really rather have some chips and hummus and a hot dog. Nope, I’m not going to the store for chips and hummus. The food that’s available in my house is still food whether it sounds great or not. And do you know what’s so beautiful about this? I discover that that thing I really didn’t think would be as good as a hot dog or Taco Bell mexi-melt, is actually pretty darn delicious! As I ate my dinner the other night – tuna fish sandwich, cashew carrot ginger almond soup (something like that) and a side of fresh yellow pepper I thought, that’s right, I can do this diet thing. That’s right, eating healthy is a beautiful thing (even if I still want some chips and hummus).

By the way, cutting up that pepper made me that much more excited to grow my own orange peppers this summer. I planted my seeds inside (late) and my seedlings have come into this world! Yeah! More on that later.

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This quaran-time (as I like to call it) has not been without its challenges, its down days, and fear. But I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on myself and life even more than usual.

Sometimes we have the option to choose which lens we wear. During this lockdown period I imagine a lot of us are donning lens of fear. Still others pick up those of anger and frustration. Some days maybe you don’t think you have a choice, you just feel what you feel. I know that feeling. I know that need.

Compulsion:

1) the action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.

2) an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.

3) Psychology. a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will.

Google search of the word compulsion

Perhaps you feel compelled to be upset, afraid, and/or sad. Perhaps you are focused on how much is out of your control. Perhaps you are compelled to resist a new way of living and seeing life. Perhaps the compulsion is your own, not the fault of another.

We do not have control over SARS-CoV2. We do not have control over the Covid-19 illness. But we have control over ourselves and how we view things. The actions we’ve been required to take, or stop, have been as a result of what is unknown in an effort to protect all of us for as long as possible. The best way to protect beings from a virus pandemic is to keep said beings away from each other. Unfortunately, we can not rely on everyone to do the right thing without being compelled to do so.

I’m getting beside myself here…

Let’s try something. At least once a week – if you don’t already – choose to wear a different lens. Now come on, don’t roll your eyes at me – kumbaya shit right? – let’s wear a lens that helps us see how life goes on. See what you don’t always see. See passed the veil of stop and go and into a life you do not know…

Today besides this little rant I bring to you a piece of short fiction. It is inspired by real life but fiction. It’s fiction because it is not an exact account of the truth but a representation of it. 😉 Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments.

They rise in the morning

They rise early in the morning, with little thought about whether or not they want to. The work has to be done. The work will be done. The work of life will do itself whether you care to participate or not.

Perhaps if they could wish it, they’d talk to their coffee pot. Could you make the perfect cup this morning please? I hear it’s going to be a cold one. These midwestern springs are beautiful, but they are often temperamental. Could you please help me start my day with a great cup of coffee.

Work clothes present and on, fashion step aside there’s work we must do. Clothes up, coffee down, shoes on, let’s go!

Out to the barn they head, the dog running in circles around them. He’s likely the most excited creature headed off to work. Perhaps they cross their fingers before they pass the threshold into the barn. Hopefully the night was good to its inhabitants.

They walk through the barn greeting all the mommas and mommas-to-be. Good morning girls. Are you doing alright? Hello momma, how are your babies? They look over every ewe and every lamb. Are their bellies full? Is she taking care of them? Are they strong and healthy? Those for whom the answers are no require action by the farmers and they oblige the responsibility. That one needs a bottle. Never go to the barn without a bottle. We might have to tube that one. These folks in the barn are not just two-legged creatures; they come in like rays of light through the large doors. They bring hay, corn, fresh water and help. They are protectors, without their farmers many of would not survive on their own. They bring soothing voices billowing up from hearts deep and rooted in what they do. They are not cruel. They are not uncaring wicked creatures. These are real farmers. These are real people. This is a farm, not a factory.

This is a way of life and living is what they do. Keep on with the living her sister used to say.

They spot a ewe at the back of the barn. She’s laying down, straining, her chin outstretched, like a dog getting a good scratch. Life is on its way. She eyes the farmers. She’s wary, but she knows them. They will keep an eye on her to make sure all is well.

They go about their business of chores. They each have their routines, their preferred methods of doing things. Sure they bicker some, but that’s how we get on isn’t it? This is life and they are living it. They are living it despite the deceptive sun that hides the fact of the cold wind. They are living it despite the fact that a lethal virus waits in the wings. It waits where we can not see it. It lingers around all that we do. It waits for us to go about as though nothing else is happening. It waits. It acts. It takes. It is a virus. It does what viruses do.

But the farm must go on, and these people aren’t about to stop. Not age, not pain, not even fear, they are their weathered barns, antique and golden. As long as their blood pumps red as the paint, they will endure. They will listen to the news on their coffee breaks, their lunch breaks, and their dinners. They will take the necessary precautions and heed the science, as they do with any illness. Not simply because they were told but because decades of experience has taught them. And heck, that’s just common sense isn’t it? They will protect themselves, each other, and their flock. They will get up every day. They will do all that they can.

It’s been too long. They’ve given her plenty of time. The ewe in the corner of the barn stands, she is uncomfortable. She still has not given birth. She and the baby could be in danger. The farmers do not panic. They get to work. He takes his coat off and lays it over a nearby fence. She approaches the nervous ewe slowly, cooing softly as she does. The ewe is afraid, it’s in her nature, she’s a prey animal. And yet she knows them. These are her people. They have come to help.

The farmer stops but a few feet away. He approaches from the side. They communicate with each other about what they’ll do. He’ll hold the ewe, keep her still, assuming she cooperates. She will assist in the delivery.

Closer now she can see the lamb’s feet, the tips of two tiny hooves. She knows exactly what she’s looking at. It’s a breach. Oh? Yup. Nothing more to say. She grabs hold of the two little feet and pulls down ever so gently. The ewe does not resist, she grunts. There’s a little resistance from the body but then the legs come free. The farmer pulls and the hind of the lamb is revealed. With a few more gentle pulls against the strength of the body it gives way and the lamb falls to the straw. They use some straw to wipe the newborn’s mouth and nose, to clear the mucous so it may breathe. One of them gently pats it to be sure it’s alive and well. And maybe to be sure it acknowledges its arrival, as much as one can expect.

The lamb sneezes, lifts its small wet head and shakes it. The farmers have removed some of the membrane from around its head but the rest is the work of the mother. Were she not to do her job – which sometimes happens – they would do it instead, albeit as humans do. But this is a good momma. She turns to her lamb and begins licking it clean. She clears it inch by inch, all the while bleating a song that she only sings to her newborn. Even an untrained assistant can hear the soft pitch is different from her normal sound. Its tone is something innate to them. This sound is a bond. This sound is a forging between mother and child. One would not doubt the lamb knows its mother.

The farmers smile. Job well done. Good looking lamb. It is, it’s beautiful. What a good momma. Perhaps if momma spoke the language of the two-legged hairless ones she’d thank them. Perhaps she’d say, I knew I was in trouble, I couldn’t have done it without you. But the farmers would not need that, they know. This is a thankless job but they know they’re needed. They’re needed by the ewes, the rams, the lambs, and the people that count on the harvest. Wouldn’t it be nice though, if everyone knew how much the farmers are needed?

Outside the sun tells the wind to take a break. Let me warm things a bit, it is spring after all.

Outside, somewhere out there among the humans, the virus travels. It is expelled from one to the next. Or maybe it flies, soars, or simply floats, but it carries on because after all, it is life. The farmers know its there but they are here and there is work to be done.

Their eyes and minds open up beyond the delivery. They watch the swallows dip and dive through the barn. They are everywhere and yet their grace enables them to stay in their own space, they bother no one. They carry on. The farmers hear the lambs bleat for their mothers, the mothers bleat for everything. Might they talk to each other? The farmer opens the door to allow the other ewes back inside the barn after tending to one of the herd, a sister or mother perhaps a cousin. Some rush in looking for fresh hay. Others approach the new mother in her pen, smelling what has happened. Still others watch the farmers, wary of what they’re doing as they finish checking the barn and all its inhabitants. The dog sits nearby waiting for a job or a pat on the head.

Well let’s get coffee then we’ll do some marking.

Inside they’ll hear the news that the numbers are still rising. They’ll hear about the angry people resisting the current situation. They know the threat is real. They know that were the world their barn they would have to do things differently. They would have to change their course of action to ensure survival of the herd, not comfort of the individual. They would adjust. They would adapt just as they do every spring.

The farmers know that life isn’t just about survival of the fittest. The farmers didn’t need school to teach them that the mechanism of evolution is adaptation. They survive because they do not stop, they adapt.

One last check of the barns after dinner then they’re off to bed. They will rise in the morning, again and again.

Here’s What’s Up: Saturday Update & April Wrap Up

So guys, how ya doing? It’s Saturday although Saturdays don’t hold quite the same sentiment these days – would you agree – it still feels good in theory. We’ve had kind of a rainy, groggy week which oddly enough echoed through a lot of our moods. However this weekend is already GORGEOUS as far as weather goes.

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So Here’s What’s Up: There’s a lot to be grateful for in addition to sunshine and a warm weekend. I’m grateful for audio books – just finished Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse, loved it, better than the first and highly recommend – and physical books – I read Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee, which was very moving as well as Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, an intriguing novella, both recommended. I’m grateful for the time and capacity to read and listen to them. In March I started What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra and finished at the beginning of April. One thing I enjoyed about this book and Catching Teller Crow was that they were fairly simple and by simple I mean the language was accessible and I would say direct.

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The plots were original, intriguing but not overly complicated. I don’t mind complicated writing or stories but it’s nice to read something straightforward and easy. Ironically both of these books focused on characters who had their fathers (in some respect) but had lost their mothers. The main characters’ relationships with their fathers are central to the plot. Both protagonists are young women, one is 15 the other I think 19, who are going through some kind of transition in their lives while trying to balance their inner struggles. What I really appreciate about how these characters were written is that they felt true to life, even as one is a ghost (that’s not a spoiler). Some YA books turn me off because I feel they exaggerate the lives and abilities of young adults. Perhaps I’ve not used the right word here. I’m not trying to say teenagers and young adults are like children, or they’re weak or incapable of leading extraordinary lives and adventures. No, that’s not what I’m saying. But it seems like most YA’s focus on young people enduring journeys, trials and tasks that would be difficult for older adults with more life experience. And yet, the young people do just fine, for the most part. A lot of the time I read YA novels (not that I read a ton) I tend to forget I’m reading about a 16 year old or an 18 year old. I’m thinking of one story in particular (I will not name, I did like it though for the most part) in which the main character goes from a sheltered little girl to a wise, ass-kicking, lover, queen and warrior in the span of a year or two and we’re talking young teen. It just didn’t ring true. I struggle with stories that suddenly toss in a scene about how young (usually a girl) the character is when all along they act like much more experienced individuals, even though as in the case above they might be a very sheltered individual with little life experience. That’s a big reason why I try to shy away from YA.

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That said, Catching Teller Crow and What the Woods Keep didn’t do that. Their characters felt far more true to life than many if not most other books I’ve read about younger ladies. Beth in Catching Teller Crow read like a 15-year old to me. The authors didn’t try to make her something else, to make her better or stronger. She was herself and perfect as she was. She was a 15 year old girl. The character in What the Woods Keep was a little older and read as such. Sure she had to be braver and maybe some things might feel like a stretch but they weren’t unrealistic in my humble opinion. Check these books out, then come back and tell me what you think. 😀

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About a week or so ago I finished listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is an epic fantasy, so it’s very long and I think long books make great audio books. For one it gives you a chance to settle in to the narrator and their various performances. I also find it easier to finish, it’s less daunting. I listen while driving, working in the yard or around the house, even walking the dog sometimes. Do use caution while listening to audio books and doing other things, better to be distracted away from the book than the task at hand. This was a great story, no doubt. The only reason I’m giving it 4.5 stars is because I think maybe it’s a little too long. However Patrick Rothfuss is a very good writer, the skill and talent is there. The characters are interesting and well-rounded, at least the most important for sure. The plot is pretty cool but sometimes I feel like I lose track of what’s actually going on as most of the story takes place as a retelling of the journey that brought our main character to the present time. Again though I have to say it is a very good story. I’m nervous to start the next book which is equally as long because everyone has been waiting on the promised third book for a long time I’ve heard. Today I visited Rothfuss’ website to see if there was any news. But all he said was when there is news he’ll be sure to share it.

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Oh and to be technically correct, I also finished Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare (started in March). Sorry, but no I do not recommend it and I will not continue the series.

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At present I’m reading the hardcover copy of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, not quite halfway through it but it’s pretty cool. It’s set in Lagos, Nigeria with a large diverse cast of characters. A unique story no doubt, something I see Okorafor does not fail to deliver. 🙂 When I finish Lagoon I plan to read Akata Witch, a yound adult, middle grade (I’ve seen it referred as both?) story, the first in a duology, also by Okorafor.

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I’ve not yet decided on my next audio book. For some reason I have a tendency towards wanting to start something new and fresh so I feel a weird aversion towards starting the sequel to The Ruin of Kings, The Name of the Wind or Strange the Dreamer. Lol. I think it’s kind of funny of me, but yeah. Probably I need a break from The Name of the Wind so I’ll likely go with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons as my next audio book. I do believe the third book is due out this October. 🙂

I am also still reading Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson, and over there on the couch is Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan and over on that shelf is The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.

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Aside from my reading my novel work has been…meh. I’m a little stuck with some details going forward regarding where things are going. Feels like I’ve been saying that for a little too long. I have no doubt I’ll break through this, I just need to focus harder and knuckle down, something I plan to do this weekend. With over 200k words I feel good, lots to edit, but there’s still a ton of work to be done. I did figure out that one of my characters, a retired schoolteacher is now a yoga instructor. Hey, what can I say, that detail came to me and I think it makes sense, it’s a good cover for what else she’s doing. 😉

There’s a lot of emotion in this thing, a lot of energy. I think it would help me to put more of my own emotions to work this weekend. This whole coronavirus situation has been beating at my brain and heart this week as I think about the future. How long, for real, until everyone is safe? What about all the high risk people? What about all the people who care only for themselves and their situation? What will happen to people who rush the process? What about the people who are quietly suffering, the people who are keeping their fears to themselves and not talking about them lest they worry someone else? How can we help each other’s mental health?

These are some of my questions. These questions are good to think about, not ruminate on but just consider. And I’ve found for a person such as myself, a creative among other things, that putting these emotions and questions, this soul-digging (as I’ll call it) to work for me and my work is one of the best things I can do. How am I feeling? How can I apply that to what my characters are going through to make it more authentic and deep? When I put my own emotions to work it helps me, it helps me in a ton of ways. So when I am feeling all over the place, stuck, down, up, everything, I think, I have got to write something. A lot of times I don’t do that but when I do, man I’m glad I did (like exercise). 😉

What else? Well I’m working on my raised garden beds, first time ever doing this but not my first go round with a garden, just my first garden in a very long time. I’m stoked! My diet and fitness goals/plans got a little off track in April but I’m set to get back on the wagon! Woo hoo! I’ll restart some kind of daily yoga and exercise regimen and hopefully start running again sooner than later.

That’s it for now but stay tuned for some book reviews, a TBR update, expected reading (basically the same as I shared before), some images (I’m going to return to sharing some of my hobby photography, at least just using it in posts), flash fiction, and I’m going to start a regular short fiction column as well.

Cool please feel free to comment, I do love to chat. Bye for now, I hope you all stay safe and well and have a lovely weekend.

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Anticipated Reading & Recent Book Haul & Thyroid Update Apparently…

Hello there, how are you? Alright here. Little bit of stress and anxiety, little extra I mean because I had to have a blood test to check up on my thyroid levels. This is a new thing for me. Admittedly I feel strange, like I’m airing dirty laundry talking about it here. I’m thinking about family reading it, like wow that’s personal. But guess you can’t be too surprised seeing as I talk about my anxiety right? And yet… What makes me want to share for sure is thinking about Ritu at But I Smile Anyway and the piece she wrote for the site Cysters. Her piece is titled PCOS-er And Proud! She shares her experience living with polycystic ovaries, how she didn’t know as a teen and then struggled as an adult trying to start a family. It’s a really interesting and eye-opening piece, I encourage you to read it. I knew nothing about PCOS, though I’d heard the words I didn’t know what it can be like for women living with this condition. Her story reminds us, it’s good to share. It’s good to be heard.

So I’m saying it here, I have recently been told I have an under-active thyroid. I don’t really have a story to tell just that this was almost relieving. It helped to explain why I felt a little extra depressed, extra tired all day, and have been having more trouble losing weight than what is my usual experience (my weight fluctuates a lot…my diet fluctuates a lot 😉 Lol.) Of course no one wants to hear your body isn’t doing something right on its own, that it’s kind of malfunctioning but answers are nice. I’m in the beginning of dealing with this situation so we’ll see.

Doctor said start Levothyroxine and get your blood checked again in six weeks. Now that was before Covid-19 took over and the call to stay at home was put in place. It didn’t take me long to say, well I’ll just wait this out and get my blood drawn once it’s safe. But, well you know, this big ole virus situation ain’t such a small ordeal and ain’t going away soon. So I’ve been wondering what I should do. The reason they need to draw my blood again, and probably often if this is a thing, is so they can see if my current dosage is working or if I need more. Today I finally called the doctor’s office and asked if I needed to get this test. Triage nurse said yes. We need to know if it’s working. Okay, thanks. (Anxiety said: SHIT!)

Luckily there are walk-in labs for diagnostic matters, I don’t have to go to the actual hospital, but still. With my mask on I went. Got it done. Nervous the whole time wondering if my mask would keep me safe, if the hand sanitizer would keep me safe, if I should do extra things like take my fleece off before I go home (I did but I think that was overkill). But I thought too about all the women in there (didn’t see any guys, sorry). Soldiers for real. Here I am shaking in my boots for the quick in and out visit I’m conducting. Were there sick people here today? They’re in there every day. They’re in there all day. They see us all. They have to watch us nervous, and probably think how do you think I feel? I stood at check in after questioning my relaxed position in the chair in the waiting room, which was like 10 feet from the check in point. I feel really stupid, standing there like the chair would kill me if I sat in it. I apologized. She thanked me for staying standing. That simple, I felt better.

Now I wait. I wait for my thyroid function cascade panel (something to that effect, the whole shebang) and for time to pass and tell me I’m not going to develop Covid-19. I think about my symptoms (thyroid, not Covid cause I don’t have that). I am still having what feels like trouble losing weight but I’m not quite as tired throughout the day as I was. Nor am I as depressed but my irritability, hm, that’s something that’ll fight you (or me and everything in my circle) like an angry badger. The science me is looking forward to the results, see where this thing takes me. Why? Because what if I do need a stronger dose, if my thyroid is still being lazy (that’s probably not the best way to describe it)? Then they might up my dose. Okay you’re waving your hand, come on what’s the point Elpy? What if feeling better is that close to me? Get it now? Cool.

😀 Okay so that’s the important part of my day. (A small, no his voice is loud. Okay a loud voice in my head, that of one of my characters who recently visited the Saloon at The Carrot Ranch, is reminding me I’m still making excuses for not focusing on my book. He thinks I should mention that to you guys.)

The rest of this post is the light, fluffy stuff I want to share: anticipated reading for the rest of April and May and my recent book haul from Book Outlet! I did not open that box for three days by the way, so I feel good about that, and I sanitized my hands after touching it. 😉 The books are on my shelf now and happy to breathe again. The books I plan to read next are from a Book Outlet haul last year (I recently found them after wondering what happened to all those books…) Oh wait, one book is from Book Depository because it’s an Australian publication and at the time that was the only place I could get it. Let’s get started. I’ll post the pictures then list them with links to Goodreads.

What I plan to read after I finish Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee (really interesting contemporary fiction novel about a character with mental illness) and in the order I show them:

  • Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina – 2019 – YA Fantasy, mystery – It was thanks to Books and Tea with Brittany (her blog has since been deleted) that I discovered this book written by an Australian Aborigine and has won awards. Yeah! I am now learning that this book was given a different title (?) in the U.S.: The Things She’s Seen. Apparently because they didn’t understand it? That frustrates me…ugh. But this is up next, it’s short and I’m excited.
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – 2015 – Sci-fi, fantasy – This is the author of Binti (OMG why haven’t I finished that series!) and The Book of Phoenix, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed, especially Binti. Naturally, you find an author you like you follow them and go back for their other stuff. 😉
  • Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – 2011 – YA Fantasy, children’s middle grade – As I said above, I’m a fan of this author. I saw she wrote this interesting sounding book (nominated for Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel 2012) and I was curious. Curious in part too to see if might be a cool rec for my niece.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab – 2016 – YA Fantasy – I learnt of this author from her interview on the Writing Excuses Podcast (awesome podcast btw). I’ve also heard her mentioned it seems everywhere else. She is a prolific writer. V.E. Schwab is her pseudonym for her adult work, while Veronica Schwab is for her young adult and middle grade work. This will be the first of her work I’ve finally read. I picked up the box set from Book Outlet last year, so I hope I like it as much as other people because I have the trilogy!
  • Stay tuned as I read them in this order!
And these are the books I picked up recently (for cheap!).

So there you have it, some personal updates (I promise to keep you updated) and some bookish updates. Now let’s see if I can get some of MY BOOK work done and hear from my characters. Wouldn’t that be nice, if I could talk about my own freaking book? Yes, yes, be patient little one. 😉

Let me know if you’ve read any of these, plan to or are interested (please don’t leave any spoilers). If you add something to your TBR thanks to me I’d really appreciate it if you give me a shout out for it. 😀 Oh and if you want to partake in some kind of buddy read, let me know in the comments. I hope to start Catching Teller Crow this weekend or next week. Alright, onward!

Here’s What’s Up: Going Forward New

Hello everyone, I hope you’re doing well today. I started off the day (if you don’t include the wee morning hours I was up) doing a yoga class on Yogadownload.com. I really really recommend this website for streaming yoga videos. They have loads of different teachers, styles, levels, and duration. I discovered it through Groupon and their offer for a discounted subscription. I am so glad that I did.

Many many years ago I practiced yoga on a regular basis but then I moved and didn’t keep up with it. Through yogadownload.com I discovered their New Year 20-day challenge, a different yoga class every day. I didn’t start on the first of the year but am currently on Day 12. Did I say I’m loving this? Oh yes, I am.

CHECK ONE BIATCHES FOR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: START BACK IN YOGA!

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A couple mornings ago, the class message was getting out of autopilot, something we all probably settle into easily. Saying I was going to get back to doing yoga once I’d lost some weight and regained fitness and found the right class was my autopilot. In this regard, I have certainly broken out of autopilot. But in most other areas of my life I am still very much in autopilot, which is not all that different from sleep-walking…

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One such area is this place right here, my blog. I know it can take some real work and soul-searching to find your brand and find your purpose. We all know my purpose is to build my author platform but I continue to struggle at knowing just how to do that. In the last few days I’ve been revisiting some old ideas, exploring what I can offer.

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So here’s what’s up!

Several years ago I thought about (I’m very good at thinking about doing things) blogging about getting my life back together, starting with my yard. I struggle with some pretty heavy anxiety and it’s only gotten worse. My yard back then was better than it is now – which isn’t saying much – and I swore I was going to reclaim it. I thought it might be good for me and for readers to witness the actions I took to take it back and make it a wonderful and peaceful space to be in. Needless to say, that did not happen, neither the blogging nor the reclamation.

This need to reclaim space in my life applies to my house, my health, my work and my business (which are different entities). One reason I didn’t share the process is because I was afraid of saying I was going to blog about it then not follow through. I guess that’s proof that a big part of me believed that I would not or could not get it done. I didn’t want to get people’s attention and then just drop it, like I do. Sadly enough, I did not reclaim my yard, or my life. So was I afraid of failing or…

I’m revisiting this as I investigate my possible brand because reclaiming my life is very much a central theme for this year. But how does this play with another central theme of my brand, powers of observation? Simply put, reclaiming my life is reclaiming…my life…hm…myself, my everything, my craft, my business. This is essential for me to be able to fully open my eyes (third included! 😉 ) and operate at least closer to 100%. I’ll be happy with like 75% though I still aim for 100.

There is so much I want to do with my life, it simply does not work to be dysfunctional in so many ways. I need a proper work space for all of my projects, as well as regular exercise, and a healthy home space. My powers of observation don’t have to be honed to see that if I am to do better, I need to exist in a better space. What I see around me is chaos that weighs me down. What I see inside me is chaos that wants to work.

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And so it is that I am going to share my journey. I have overanalyzed every part of this each time I think about sharing. Is it wrong for me to “use” this chaos, this dysfunction? Can I do this? Is it interesting? No it’s not wrong because it’s a real experience that so many can relate to and everybody likes to hear about people rising up out of the dust (in my case that’s a little literal 😉 ). Of course I can do this but I must be committed and disciplined. Yes it’s interesting because with each step I take to improve I am taking another step towards a better me. And a better me has a lot more to offer. Besides, to get to know me as an author, well, is to get to know me as a person and vice versa.

Do I know just how this is going to work and look in terms of this blog? No, no I don’t but if you stay tuned you’ll see it. 😉 I will continue book blogging as well because of course writing is my craft which means reading is my study (and one of my favorite hobbies). I love talking about books, learning about new books, and sharing my thoughts even if I’m just complaining about book stuff. In addition I’m going to write about perspectives (mostly mine to start but we’ll see who else 😉 ) in aging. I’m in my mid-30s so I’m not old. But if you’re a teen or in your 20s then probably I am old to you. If you’re 50+, you’re laughing at me a little. 😀 But let’s have this conversation, getting older is not easy but it is a necessary part of this darn journey and I think it’s well, different for women. Men if you’re reading please do feel free to share your thoughts and contradictions!

And darn it, I think today’s culture disempowers aging and the aged (whatever that means), sucking away the gifts age brings for the vanity of youth.

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In summary, here’s what’s up, this year I’ll be talking about reclaiming my life, getting myself together as a result so I may pursue more ventures, book blogging stuff, and getting older as a woman today, this will probably include a lot of things that are yet to be determined.

Guys, this is gonna be a good year.

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Thank you for your time please feel free to comment and do follow me to keep up with the good, the bad, the ugly, the strange, the hmmm, the beautiful, the wow and all the other stuff. 😉

Here’s What’s Up: Outlander & More!

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Here’s what’s up, another Saturday is here, can you believe it? I hope so otherwise there might be trouble in paradise. What else is up is that I’m catching up, or at least I’m trying, it’s only May right? Ha, I wish. Okay today I’d like to confess one of my latest binges, the TV adaptation of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I can’t tell you what channel to watch it on because I streamed it on Netflix although they only have seasons 1 & 2 I’ve learned she’s writing another book and they’re filming season five. What! For real.

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The TV series first aired in 2014 while the first book was published in 1991.

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From Goodreads:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach an ‘outlander’ in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

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This isn’t the first I’ve heard of this series, it was at least two years ago probably longer. I listened and watched many an author interview in which there was a panel of authors that included Diana Gabaldon, at least one also had George R.R. Martin. I listened along interested enough, though I didn’t know anything about her story or characters. Then one day several weeks ago I needed some background noise and so I went to Netflix and there it was. I thought, meh, what the heck, I’ve heard of this story so I’ll give it a shot. This became my go to show while riding my spin bike and winding down the evening.

While romance is not my go to genre this story is also fantasy, which is my genre. It has not disappointed. I indulged in the first two seasons with interest, intrigue, and plenty of shock. However upon learning there’s going to be a fifth season I can’t wrap my mind around this story seemingly going on forever. Sorry to all you die hard fans but it could have ended with the second season if you ask me. I like Jamie and Claire (the main protagonists) although I like Claire less because she annoys me sometimes.

It’s a heck of a story full of emotion and shocking twists. There’s also A LOT of graphic violence, sexual violence and of course sex. So if you’re sensitive or triggered don’t watch this show, it’s love and warfare across the board. Diana Gabaldon knows her craft to say the least, and it’s fair to say she did some impressive research. Nevertheless, I still think this is a good example of a story that shouldn’t go on and on just because it can.

DISCLAIMER: I know almost nothing about season three so if you feel like you want to slap me for my presumption I’m sorry. It’s just that I don’t believe that’s it’s going to be as interesting to follow the next generation around time and space. I’m sorry but until I gain access to the third season I’m going to hold my position.

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The main reason I want to talk about this today is because even as I haven’t (and won’t) read the books (because I’ve seen the show) there’s a lot a writer can learn from this series. For one this story shows us why it’s super important to have tension and to build on that tension in your story. Claire Randall is married in 1946 but falls in love in 1743 at the same time she’s dying to return to the present. Tension? Yup, loads. At the beginning of the show we see how Claire & Frank (her present day husband) truly love each other. So when she travels back in time we can feel her desperation to return to her husband. Of course she’s desperate to get back for a lot of reasons but we all worry for Frank and what he must be thinking after his wife mysteriously disappears. And then she has to marry Jamie in order to survive? Claire’s struggle with this marriage and the fact that she didn’t ever want to leave her husband is palpable. We the audience ride the emotional roller coaster alongside these characters.

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When I think about this story and The All Souls trilogy I’m taking notes for my own writing. It’s clear to me that a good story is like a tree. There’s a main theme – a witch finds a highly prized missing manuscript, a mysterious vampire is stalking her, and her powers are growing; a married woman accidentally travels 200 years into the past, while trying to get home she falls in love and must choose between her two lives – like the main trunk, it is the base of the story, the foundation. The trunk then branches out to large branches that divide further into small branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruits. When constructed the reader/audience is not left wanting. We don’t simply hope for the ending. We want to explore and discover all these nuanced divisions from the trunk. When written like this I think you’re always giving the reader something. Of course you have to hold out for the big reveals but let’s face it we don’t want to wait until the end of the book to learn new things and to get answers. Reveal other things to the reader. Teach us. Show us your world so we can explore because we can’t do it on our own. These other stories all build on the main trunk/theme ramping up my interest in the larger story. The added complexity raises the stakes and the tension.

As I may have mentioned before in The All Souls trilogy I was impressed that every chapter seemed to reveal something new to me. For instance in book two, Shadow of Night, I recall a chapter that ends with Matthew and Diana on a date. I really could care less about their date but whatever. As the chapter, and their date, came to a close I expected nothing more but a steamy end to their night. I got that but I also got a last minute reveal, like really last minute and it was a good one. Not only was that awesome for me as a reader but as a writer I was really impressed. That piece of information also brought me an answer to a couple of questions then brought up a host more. A lot of writers would have ended with that date, not every chapter can be thrilling right? And a lot of people would have been fine with that. But Deborah Harkness wasn’t. She let you relax into their date then BAM guess what!?

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Needless to say that stuck with me. As I develop my own story I remind myself to give my reader new information often, even if it’s little bits and pieces. Add buds, leaves, and flowers to your story tree, don’t just build a bare tree like a stick figure. As a reader I don’t think I want to read a story that just starts and finishes unless it’s a short story. Reflecting on these stories and more, stories that I really enjoyed reading, I recognize that I’m apt to get lost in them if they’re more than just a main theme/trunk. It seems that it’s easier to forget you’re reading a story if it weaves around and doesn’t just travel from A to Z to answer the main question.

Think about it in terms of the clip below, in terms of boxing matches. Do you want to watch a fight where one guy just knocks out the other guy and we have a clear winner? Or do you want to watch a fight in which it’s a battle, they exchange blows, and you’re not quite sure just who will win but ultimately it’s a clear win (maybe someone does get knocked out)?

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Of course there’s a caveat. Don’t just add separate story lines and characters in an attempt to make your story more dynamic and nuanced. They have to grow naturally from the trunk, not be grafted on in a lab. Your reader will only be more upset to be sent on a fruitless tangent or one that feels forced. Brainstorm. Ask yourself a lot of questions about your character’s motivations and your own. Question if what you just wrote makes sense in regard to your characters. Make sure you can come back seamlessly from one of these other branches. Don’t just write it just to write it, we the reader will know and we’ll frown at you. Plus IMHO such moves add the wrong kind of weight to a story.

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Thanks so much for reading and visiting. I hope you found this post insightful both in terms of how you use reading and how you write. Please let me know if you did and how perhaps this helped you progress.

Have you seen or read Outlander? What are your thoughts?

Don’t forget to follow me if you enjoyed this and would like to hear more about what I’m reading, writing and watching. If you want to read more of Here’s What’s Up with Writing CLICK HERE.

Here you’ll find my reviews.

And my 2019 TBR.

Until next time,

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Here’s What’s Up With Writing

Look I did it, I made it back to writing a Saturday Here’s What’s Up post! Woo hoo! Sometimes it really is the small victories. 😉

Okay, so what is up? Well, here’s what’s up:

The point of this post is to share some resources/apps I use for my writing as well as to describe how I use a variety of methods to work on my novel. Sometimes it’s not a enough to just sit down with a pad of paper and a pen. Other times you just don’t have the time or capacity to hammer out a whole paragraph but you’re internally driven to work on your world and/or the story. If you don’t have the resources and/or flexibility to capitalize on that drive you might wind up doing something else entirely, liking surfing the net perhaps? Or social media? Yep, that kind of stuff. Allow me then to provide you some suggestions based on my own methodology.

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Voice Recorder

I have a couple different voice recording apps on my phone. Honestly I haven’t gotten into their details and just what all they can do or even compared them to each other. I just use them to record what I’m saying to capture my ideas. If I was going to present this recording I might care more but that’s another story.

When I’m in the car or walking my dog I can’t very well write, not by hand or by keyboard. But that doesn’t stop my wheels from turning (pun intended). It would be a tremendous waste to just let those thoughts go to the wayside. Maybe you have a great memory and those thoughts aren’t wasted but why take the chance? Sometimes I won’t need to listen to the recording afterward when I can write because I do remember, the very act of recording meant those thoughts were fleshed out and implanted in my brain.

I have a bluetooth headset that I wear so I’m not walking or driving around holding my phone talking into it. Turn on the voice recorder, record the date and time and maybe even what I’m doing and what’s happening in my life, then start talking. There are times I know just what I want to talk about – my character’s backstory or a new plot twist – and other times I have no idea what I want to talk about but I want to work on my story. In those cases I start off with what I last worked on in my story then I think about something that was a problem there or I think about what should happen next. Just talk to yourself, brainstorm. You might find this is easier than writing because you don’t have to edit your sentences or edit yourself as you would while writing actual chapters. Say whatever, discuss who, what, when, where, why, how, first, next, then, finally. Use voice recording for free form brainstorming.

Mindjet Maps

This is a specific app I use on my devices and have for some time. I use the free version and it works just fine for my informal yet important purpose. This app allows you to create maps for ideas, notes, tasks, etc. Think bubbles connected by lines to other bubbles, webs of ideas. It’s fabulous! You can zoom in and out, use dropbox (although I haven’t tried that yet), access anywhere, open and close branches of the web/map so you don’t have to see everything all at once or see it all open before you.

I use this resource when I don’t have a lot of time to write or I’m not in a position to haul out my portable keyboard, laptop or even a notebook. Sometimes that’s just too much. Mindjet Maps is great for me when I’m not drawn to working in complete sentences or paragraphs but I still want to work on story details. For example, I have a map of one my main character’s family and background. There’s a branch for her paternal and maternal families. These details are relevant to my story so it’s important I flesh out the details and know them at least for myself. There are bubbles for his mom, dad, siblings, birth, death, career, hobbies, and more. You can even draw arrows from one bubble to another to tie them together or make notes pertaining to a particular bubble. You can use icons, a variety of colors, and all sorts of customization, although you can’t use just any shape of bubble, you’ve got 3-4 options mostly just size difference.

These maps can serve as great references for when you are back to formally writing. Here you can record names and statistics such as age, schooling, career, hobby, physical details, family, etc. It’s also satisfying to work with this visual, especially if you’re a nerd you’ll have fun creating all kinds of new branches! This can be a great way to source new ideas if you’re having trouble. It’s a new way of looking at things as opposed to just strings of words on the page.

OneNote

This is a Microsoft service provided with Microsoft Office. You can download it across your devices as well as use on your computer. This means you can access it across devices, of course. I’ve been using OneNote for a long time so it tends to be my preferred program though Google drive/docs can serve a similar purpose.

Within OneNote you create “notebooks” that you can share with others should you want to. Once you’ve created your notebook (and you can make as many as you want) you then create and use as many folders as you’d like, they look like tabs across the top. And this goes on and on like having a notebook with an infinite number of “subjects” inside. You create pages within your folders and can go further to have subpages for those pages. You can move sections or pages from one folder to another. You can, let’s say you’re on a touchscreen with a stylus pen, use the handwriting function and write into the document. Your writing opens a block that you can move around the page, should you want to move horizontally you can, thereby dividing the page up how you want. You can do all that you would in word but more. It’s excellent.

OneNote saves and syncs automatically as you write, assuming you’re on a network that is it syncs automatically. So go ahead and type three pages on your computer, then when you’re in the waiting room sitting pull up OneNote on your phone and go over what you wrote, make changes, add to it, whatever. Go home later and pick up where you left off.

Scrivener

Last but not least, and newest to me, is Scrivener. I heard of this software long before I actually downloaded it for NaNoWriMo 2017. It is a paid service but I think it’s quite reasonable and worth it.

I’m still learning my way around Scrivener and haven’t been using it a lot lately for no other reason than I just haven’t. It’s not as accessible as some of these other programs I’ve described. I only use it on my laptop and desktop which I think is all you can do. But that doesn’t make it any less worth using.

In terms of organization it gets down to work even more so than OneNote although it is similar in that it’s arranged like a binder with folders and tabs and documents. You can create multiple binders and break them down from there. While Scrivener looks a little more primitive it’s complex and starts you off with a tutorial on how to use it. You can create notecards, use templates such as character sketch, and more. Also Scrivener provides the option to compile all your work together as a novel when you are done. You can sync and back up your documents and it saves automatically as you work. Also when you open a new project you have the option to choose blank, fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, or miscellaneous.

I’m not going to go into anymore detail here as I’m still very much learning this software but I do recommend it. You’ll find that this is a popular and well known program among writers.

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I need not mention but will, that I use pieces of paper (to add to binders later), notebooks of paper, notepads and journals to write as well. I might also use note cards although my organizational skills are lacking and will get a good heave-ho here soon. Also, I have a whiteboard set up on the wall in my house. This is a new thing but I’m looking forward to finding how best to use this for my story. So, here’s what’s up!

What about you? Do you use any of these tools for writing? Do you use others?

If you would like to share this post please link back to me and share proper credit. If you find this helpful hit the like button and let me know, I’d love to hear about how this helped you or how you’ve used these tools to your advantage. I really hope to share what I can that gets me through the process and gets my ideas flowing.

Don’t forget to check out my latest writing exercise post and let me know if you give it a try. I’m digging it!

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Like any job it’s important to have the necessary tools. Thanks so much for visiting and reading. Have a lovely day.

Here’s What’s Up With Writing

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Is it really Saturday again, already? Wow. As much as I would like to slow time down I fear that should we ever discover how to it would be an enormous mistake. It’s thoughts like that that make Science Fiction and Fantasy stories so appealing. We can explore possibilities and/or crazy hair-brained ideas in all their glory.

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Here’s What’s Up…

Today’s post is about writing and it’s about writing this blog. There’s so many blogs and bloggers out there, never mind all the YouTubers and their VLOGS. It’s not easy for everyone to make their mark and stand out. Some people don’t care. Maybe they’re just blogging for themselves or their family and friends. There are also those folks who just want the attention, they just like the idea of having followers and getting likes. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about (because I would get lost in the pits and potholes that is the internet and social media).

As I’ve said elsewhere, the purpose of this blog is to get to know me, more specifically me as a writer. I plan to publish my novel in 2020 but in the meantime this is my author platform. And still it’s not that simple. It’s not enough to just say hey I’m here, come read my stuff, and then hopefully when the day comes you’ll read my book! No, I need to draw you in. Stores have window displays. Kiosks and booths have their sales people right out front approaching you, getting your attention, offering you samples or glances at what they offer. Special offer just for you, right? Why should I be so different? I don’t EXPECT, I hope. So I’m always thinking about what I should or might do differently to appeal to readers.

There are a lot of book bloggers out there, fabulous! But how do you navigate through the crowd? What makes you stop and listen to what one or the other has to say? Do you follow every one you like or are you really picky and seldom follow? Maybe you’re someone who just surfs and reads whatever is at the top of the news feed drawing your attention. Do you read reviews because you want a new book to read or do you read reviews after the fact because you want to know what someone else thought about the book? I’m mostly one of the latter. Sure I read reviews before I’ve read a book but I don’t always like to. While most reviewers state whether or not their review contains spoilers, sometimes I just don’t want to know too much about the book so that it’s all a surprise to me. That’s how I feel about books I KNOW I’m going to read. However, if there’s a book I keep hearing about and it’s piquing my interest more and more then I’ll probably read a review or two to get a better sense and help me tip the scales.

While thinking about this over the past week I came to the conclusion that I really want to write more, including my reviews, from the angle of my being a writer. I’ve long felt that I don’t want to give writing advice because I don’t think I’m in a position to tell other people how to write well. That doesn’t mean I won’t provide suggestions or tips for the habit of writing. In fact I’ll probably write a post this coming week about my thoughts on writer’s block, if you believe in such a thing. What I want to do is give things the writer’s spin or the writer’s take.

Once I wrote a comment in LibraryThing about writing reviews for the author and the readers. A moderator came right back and told me that reviews ARE NOT for the author. I said nothing because sure she’s right, but does she have to be? Of course reviews are for the most part of other readers to get a sense of whether or not they want to read this book. And yet, what says I can’t write my reviews with the author or other writers in mind? That’s how I think after all, I always have my writer’s brain on. I don’t think I can turn it off to be honest. Huh… Here’s what’s up with what I’m thinking…

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My little brother was not much of a student. It’s just true. But he was a hell of an extreme sports athlete. Skate boarding, BMX biking, snowboarding, wakeboarding, it’s fair to say those were his favorites. So when he relayed to us one day that he would be attending school for film editing in Burbank, California I was surprised. He’s going back to school? Wow. Now I know trade school and art schools aren’t the same as grade school, but it’s still SCHOOL! And so he went.

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He was good. He liked it. He loved it. He was really good. He grew more and more passionate about making movies. He made little films about cooking food, cooking food on a bunsen burner, cleaning his room before leaving the house, such normal things but he made them cool with special effects and music. He gave you a new view on things from his mind.

Of course he also made movies about snowboarding and what not. As much as his friends enjoyed his ambitions, I’m pretty sure they had their days where they would just rather not perform for the camera. Lol. This was all before YouTube really blew up and everyone decided they were film editors. I think about what he would be doing now. How strange life is. I know he struggled sometimes knowing just what to do with this talent of his. That his timeline came to an end just before this film editing craze (I mean who doesn’t make YouTube videos these days, other than me?) I can’t help but think how cruel the irony of life.

His story teaches us through his story to use your skills as long as you can. Whether you celebrate Easter for the religious holiday that it is, the celebration of rebirth, or you just like the candy and watching kids hunt for eggs, we can all stand to appreciate that it’s not too late to give rise to that which lives within you. Not while you’re alive.

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Okay I got off track. That trip down memory lane was actually to share a memory of him from when he was back from school though not finished. We were at my mother’s house sitting on the couch off the kitchen. A movie was on TV though I don’t remember what it was. All of a sudden he started talking about the filming of the scenes and how it was cut. He talked about the editing, how the producer transitioned from the last scene to the next. I remember smiling and being taken aback because I wasn’t prepared for his reflections. But that is what an artist does. We see the art, but we also see the work. What made them make THAT decision? Why did they cut there? Why did they leave that? Interesting they used that transition. It’s a beautiful memory for me. While our arts are different, it’s a mental exercise and process we will always share.

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When I reading, watching movies or TV, listening to anything, my artist’s brain is activated. When I review books I’m thinking about what they did that just didn’t work and I thought was lazy writing. Or I’m thinking, wow that was GOOD! Ever read a passage and say oh come on, they didn’t even try? You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to think this way, but imagine when you are? The other day while talking to my partner about some writing breakthroughs I’ve had, I exclaimed that I just don’t know how George R.R. Martin walked around doing normal stuff with all that in his head!

I want to share these writerly perspectives of mine. I want to let other writers know what about a book or section didn’t work from the perspective of the writing. I mean this is constructive criticism right? Don’t we watch reality shows and pay attention to social media because we want to see what other people see and think? And that’s usually NOT constructive criticism? We value other people’s reactions whether or not we agree with them. This is what I will try to offer you. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting to hear how my brain works when it comes to writing. We’ll see. But I hope you will engage with me and the content here.

Please do respond to any or all of the various things I’ve mentioned or asked about here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oh and I haven’t forgotten about my review of The Deepest Blue, I’ve been working on a draft. Reading that book helped to spawn my desire to be more intentional with writing about things from the eyes of a writer instead of just a blogger who’s also working on a novel NOT that that’s bad. I hope I’ve made it clear here what I’m doing and not just repeating other things I’ve said. 😉

Cheers everyone and Happy Easter. I hope it’s a beautiful weekend for you.

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Here’s What’s Up Catch Up!

Hello everyone and welcome to a new week! Now I know I’m supposed to do Here’s What’s Up posts on Saturday (cause I said I would) and today is Monday. But meh, I made the rules here so sometimes I break them. I’ve been missing some posts these last few weeks and not talking to ya all too much but I’m here!

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What’s there to say? First, spoiler alert if you haven’t seen Season 7 (the last one) of Game of Thrones or any for that matter. I saw the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere Sunday night after watching the last two episodes from last season. Man, that battle scene with the Night King and the dragons? Oh lord, I had goosebumps, still can’t believe that happened. As for last night I think it was a good start to what’s bound to be a great season, I mean it’s got to be if it’s the last right? Although I would have liked to see a little more reaction out of everybody when Bran said they’ve got your dragon and it’s one of them. They looked like oh shit and then we moved on. What! Come on you know that would blow your mind.

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Disclaimer by the way, I have not read any of the books. But this epic story is just that, epic. It is a fantastic example of good storytelling. And I love how there is such a diverse cast of characters. We weave in and out of their lives, watching them build, fail and rebuild. All along the way George R.R. Martin and the screenwriters build us up to little pitfalls or triumphs and enormous crescendos and destruction. It’s like you’re watching a real story line in history. My partner said he had to remind himself that this all didn’t really happen, that they never killed that dragon with just one toss of a spear, sending him plummeting onto the ice and into the lake. Gosh…that was too much! There is no one villain or one good guy, and how knows what’s going to happen next because Martin seems to love to “kill his darlings” as they say in writing. Hats off to George R.R. Martin and the production crew behind Game of Thrones! I could do without ALL the nudity but it’s still epic and well deserving of its popularity.

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Okay what else? Here’s What’s Up with Saturday night Boxing. (Another spoiler to follow regarding boxing match Saturday night.) Well I also watched a great fight between two awesome women boxers, Claressa Shields versus Christina Hammer. You might recall that Shields is an Olympic Gold Medalist in boxing and hails from Flint, Michigan. She won gold medals in both the 2012 & 2016 Olympics. She’s the first male or female boxer to win consecutive Olympic medals. She’s also only the 6th boxer, male or female, to hold all four major world titles in boxing. And she just turned 24 this March so she was 17 years old when she won her first Olympic gold in women’s boxing.

Christina Hammer is a very worthy opponent born in Kazakhstan but relocated to Germany soon after her birth. She’s a “multiple-time world champion in two weight classes” and has been named Fighter of the Year and Female Boxer of the Year and won the WBO Diamond Ring for Exceptional Performance.

I wasn’t prepared for Shields to beat Hammer so decisively, I really thought it would be more of a battle between the two. Don’t get me wrong Hammer held up and didn’t exactly do nothing but as the announcers and my partner were saying, she didn’t fight her fight, she fought Shields’ fight. At the end of the night Hammer was looking a little bit stunned by what had just happened herself and Shields was a damn proud woman. Hats off to them both! I hope they have succeeded in catapulting women’s boxing to a new level because they were great to watch. Women’s boxing deserves a lot more attention than it gets. It would be great to see even more qualified fighters in the ring on a regular basis. I would like to see a rematch between these two although I don’t know if it’s in the cards. And come on, Shields vs Hammer, even the title is cool!

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Here’s What’s Up with my Reading

In the world of books, I finished The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst. I will most certainly have a review for you tomorrow but I can say now that while I was really excited to LOVE this book I mostly just liked it. I’m a fan of Durst’s and I really enjoyed her Queens of Renthia series but this stand alone book set on the Islands of Belene, another part of the world Renthia, missed the mark just left of center for me. It was still a worthy read, and I will continue to follow Durst. In fact I really hope she keeps exploring other parts of Renthia and even Belene. But the story itself kind of fell flat. There’s exciting and interesting parts however there were some crucial details that felt like repeats. I’ll tell you more in my review but let’s just say I think I’m giving this 3.5 stars.

I bumped this and some other books up my Spring TBR because I need an ebook to read while I’m on my spin bike or in other instances where reading from my device is just easier than reading an actual book. Have you seen the hardcover edition of Shadow of Night? Very soon I’ll be starting The Voyage of the Basilisk. But first, I just started reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness because that’s the book myself and others voted to read in April for the Goodreads group I’m a member of. This second book in the All Souls Trilogy is almost 600 pages long so I need to get reading it! Know then that The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan is up next.

When I look at my TBR on Goodreads I feel so crazy because I want to read so many books like now but I do not have THAT kind of time. Oh well, a girl can dream… In the meantime I’m super stoked because I’ve been doing some impressive brainstorming for my novel. Tonight I plan to start putting these ideas to work on paper. (I brainstorm a lot into a voice recorder. It’s great fun talking to yourself. :D) Writing is an intense act to undertake let me tell you. I have decided to delete a character which means – oh my gosh – I’m going to have to delete a bunch of words I’ve already put together about her. I’ve also found a whole new direction to take things in.

The nature of my story has changed and it feels so right to me! But there’s so much juggling to do. One thing I’m practicing that’s helping me immensely is just getting some thoughts out to see how they look and feel and what branches off of them before I butcher and beat them. I have a heavy handed inner editor and she tries to stop nearly everything before it even comes out of my brain. Well she is getting put in her MF’n place, let me tell you.

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There you have it, Here’s What’s Up With Me! Game of Thrones, Boxing: Shields v. Hammer, The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst, Voyage of the Basilisk, Shadow of Night, and write write write! Woo! Can you tell I’m excited? Oh my gosh I almost forgot that I also got the ebook for The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli, Iscari Book 2. I really enjoyed the first one and this book got bumped up my 2019 TBR to Spring TBR because, like I said, I need some ebooks.

How about you? Do you watch GOT? Did you? What about boxing? Will you now? I tell ya you should check these women out, they are bad asses.

And how’s your reading going? Have you read The Deepest Blue? Voyage of the Basilisk? Shadow of Night? The Caged Queen? Let me know what you think because I would love to have a chat.

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Here’s What’s Up With Me

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Happy Saturday everyone! Hope this post finds you well. I know I missed some posts this Wednesday and almost missed this Here’s What’s Up, but you know I couldn’t leave you hanging! Last week I mentioned I’ve been behind in reading. Well this week wasn’t much different, although I was able to finish Tim Clare’s The Honours, which I really enjoyed. You can find my review posted tomorrow, Sunday, 7 April, 2019. I recommend this book if you like fantasy, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t “horror” per se but maybe some of the elements lean that way. I’m happy to have finished this, the second half of the book was a quick read, I had to know what happened next, yes it was like that.

Here’s what’s up in the meantime,

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Folks I have been writing. Yes that’s right I got my butt in the seat and wrote thousands of words.

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Words for what? My novel silly. Because here’s what’s up: I’ve been in a writing slump for a little while now, lot of outside stressors getting in the way, as they do. But underneath it all ideas have been bubbling to the surface, until finally like a volcano – okay a little volcano, like the size you made in school – they burst forth! It’s still safe to say I’m looking forward to a 2020 publication date.

Writing is hard work. I take my hat off and fill my heart with the efforts of all the writers out there. While I’m reading I’m still a writer. It amazes me the things people make happen when they put pen to paper, even more so as I’m doing it myself. It’s also difficult not to beat your own work up as you’re putting it together. But you absolutely have to remember that a first draft is not a finished product. I remind myself of this again and again, every time I’m writing or brainstorming I tell my inner editor to shut the heck up, for real, shut up, you’re not helping. A person does not come out of the womb all grown up and in its prime. No we’re born with a lot of growing left to do.

And so I continue my writing as well as my reading. I’m also working on some short stories to submit, I’ll let you know how that goes. Now that I’ve finished The Honours (I’ve misplaced Everfair or else I’m sure I’d be finished with it, lol), I will begin The Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan. I’m also going to find Everfair and finish that puppy, then I’ll start The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.

As I said above I’ll have my review of The Honours posted tomorrow. This week you will find a post about my plans for April as well as a post about why I added some of the books I did to my March TBR.

Anything on my Spring TBR you’re interested in? Or have you read The Honours by Tim Clare? I think this book is underrated and deserves more attention. So look for more buzz from me about Tim, his book, and his podcast in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned!

Oh and share your thoughts, I love chatting! Thanks for reading everyone. 😀

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Here’s What’s Up: March TBR Additions

Hello friendly blog readers and bloggers! How are you all doing? Was this a good reading month for you? Are you reading more, less, the same? Any new books you just have to share? What’s happening with your March TBR additions, I know you’ve got some!

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I’m taking advantage of this Saturday being the last one in March and using it to post March TBR Additions as a Here’s What’s Up for Book Lovers Saturday series! Let’s dive in.

This is a monthly TBR wrap-up post. It’s simple, I tell you what I added to my TBR at the end of the current month! There’s my TBR (on Goodreads, 231 as of today) and my 2019 TBR (42, as of this second). I will also have seasonal TBRs, like Spring 2019 TBR. If I add new books to any of these specific lists I’ll let you know, otherwise assume they’re just being added to my general TBR, as in sometime in my life maybe I’d like to read this.

Here’s what’s up: In March I added 39 books to my TBR thanks to multiple sources, from podcasts to other book bloggers. I will give credit where credit’s due when available. Some books I just found.

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The following list is the books I’ve added to my TBR starting March 1st. If available, the source of the referral follows the title and author.

Okay so wow, there you have it. Just when you think you’re set on finding anymore books – which let’s be honest I’m just saying that because you never think that – you run into lists, posts, podcasts, and interesting covers, let’s not get started on series.

Are you reading any of these? Maybe you already have or want to? Let me know, I’d love to hear what we have in common or not. Don’t be afraid to tell me if you think any of these books are crap. I’m not afraid of opinions that are other than I LOVE THAT BOOK. Stay tuned for more information on some of these books and what made me add them to my list. Of course these list change and depend on my progress with reading and writing.

What do you think?

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