- First off, according to trending on Facebook, it seems that today is National Ice Cream Day. Since we have entered the part of summer that’s hot as blue blazes, this seems like an excellent idea. And I JUST made a fresh batch of coconut milk ice cream yesterday.
- It’s been a busy busy week at Casa Nolan. We’ve been working on getting the teenager registered for school. This has definitely, thus far, been the biggest challenge we’ve faced as stand in parents. So here we have this compulsory thing, and yet they make it so difficult to accomplish! It takes all the logical stuff–transcripts and shot records–and also 17 forms if ID, a DNA sample, an act of Congress, multiple proofs of residency, and a sacrificial chicken. Between the two of us, the teenager’s grandmother and I managed to round up everything (multiple trips to multiple different locations in the school district) to finally get us to the point of ready to pick classes, which she’ll do once the counselors are back next week.
- In more fun areas, we birthdayed this week for teenager. She turned fourteen. Had her party with all her friends yesterday. There were board games; homemade pizza, pie, and ice cream; and a pinata. Good times were had by all. I think there was even the chasing of some Pokemon (pokemen? What the heck is the plural?). This afternoon we’re going to see the new Ghostbusters.
- So, with all of that, the word count has been rather low this week. I knocked out about 2500 words on the current WIP on Monday and Tuesday and nothing the rest of the week. I’m right at the Black Moment where I break them up, and I always REALLY REALLY hate this part, so there’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I’m hoping to push through that today so that next week I’m on the downhill slope, hurtling toward getting them back together.
- I did get editor’s notes back on the holiday anthology novella. I earned my very first gold star! Other than some typos and clarifying a couple of things, I didn’t need to revise anything. It was super clean. Apparently I’ve got the whole Hallmark Channel Movie vibe down pat. So I did knock out the necessary revisions on that in the fastest revision ever, and that frees up the last week of this month for current WIP (which is good as it seems to be taking longer than anticipated).
- School starts August 4th, which seems insane. Also, it’s a Thursday. What do they think they will accomplish in 2 days? Either way, I expect we’ll be doing some last minute school shopping and such and then we’ll be getting into whatever qualifies as our normal routine.
- My pal Susan shared a link on Facebook last week for mason jar pies. This now has me off on a savory pie quest. I’m thinking about doing quiche in a jar, chicken pot pie, and any number of other single serve, all in one kind of meals, in addition to the obvious ACTUAL pie. There was also a link somewhere to basically how to make mason jar lunchables, which I also thought was fantastic.
- Other exciting food things this week include the arrival of my Instant Pot. This thing is like 7 appliances in 1: -Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. I got it because I wanted to try out the pressure cooker part. I mean, a roast chicken on a WEEKNIGHT? I got a super deal on it on Prime Day. This is a big thing in Paleo cooking, and I’ve got a few cookbooks through Kindle Unlimited. Need to go read the instruction manual though. Super excited about my new toy!
Well, how’s this for crazy? I set up all the stuff for Round 3 over at the ROW80 blog and never got around to actually posting my goals. A lot of that is because I went immediately on vacation down to the coast for some writer time with Lisa Kroger. We had a spa day and lots of brainstorming, which was fantastic. There’s no telling what the lovely ladies doing our pedicures thought of our conversation. I sorted out what was missing from my current book and did a read through in order to incorporate the new material about my hero. Now, I’m sitting here with an epic case of page fright trying to get back into things. The teenager gets back in an hour or so from a two week stint with her grandparents, so time is short for words tonight, but then we’ll be getting firmly back into routine. So, with that in mind, it’s time to set some goals:
- Oldie but goodie, write 20 days out of every 30.
- Finish writing Turn My World Around, the Wishful novel (#6) I’m 2/3rds of the way through with.
- Finish revisions on Dance Me A Dream (#8), another Wishful novella that’s my contribution to a holiday anthology releasing later this year. I actually wrote this one last Christmas and just need to make a pass through to deepen some stuff and generally flesh out a couple of things. That should be nice and quick.
- Revise Sooper Seekrit Project Book 1. The first draft of this was…almost devoid of conflict because I didn’t fully understand the conflict until I was nearly through. Took out all the narrative punch. Plus I didn’t know my hero or shero or world well yet. So, this will be a full on new draft (mostly).
- Plot out Sooper Seekrit Project Book 3. This one’s plot has been eluding me, so that’s why it’s been pushed off to after this other stuff.
- Begin formatting Wishful books for print editions. I need to just take a long weekend somewhere and knock them all out.
That ought to do me.
In the beginning…
Several years ago, I started a self directed goal of taking better care of my body–through fitness, better nutrition, skincare, the works. And I dubbed it Operation Goddess In Training because the idea was to treat myself like the goddess I know I can be (this would be before the term for inner goddess was hijacked and ruined by 50 Shades). For a long time things on that front went really well. I got back into good routines, into much better shape post grad school and it was a way of looking at health and fitness that was a lot more psychologically healthy than what I grew up thinking in terms of short cuts and yo-yo dieting and quick fixes. Years later, I am in a much better place mentally. I’m a lot more at home in the body God gave me and no longer concerned with being a size 2. Everything is a lot more about FEELING GOOD. So on that front, I feel I’ve been successful. My skin is a thousand times better than it used to be.
But five years ago, Daisy had her spinal stroke and our whole life changed. Instead of long walks at least once, often twice a day, we went through a phase where there weren’t any walks at all because we couldn’t bear the look on Daisy’s face when we took Callie and not her because she couldn’t walk. The whole thing just led to a much more sedentary lifestyle that we simply haven’t quite managed to overcome in the year since her passing. Daily walks resumed, but they aren’t as long as they used to be (mile and a half instead of nearly three). I’ve fallen down on my weight lifting and gotten bored. I had a good year where I was running regularly, but then the treadmill died. Even once we joined the gym, the last time I tried to do C25K, running gave me a straight up histamine response and I kept ITCHING so bad, I couldn’t keep it up.
In the middle of all this, hubby turned out to be gluten intolerant. A few years after that, I turned out to be allergic to casein. Both of those things led to massive changes in our diet–for the better on a lot of fronts. Lots more fruits and veggies and organics, avoiding GMOs and other inflammatory sorts of foods. Very little in the way of processed foods. But the curious side effect of clean eating? The less tolerance you have for any of the crap. Given that the vast majority of the world doesn’t eat this way, it makes for some problems. Because I’ve gotten to a point where a single slip (aka, having one of those cookies at the office or eating something out or having a hard cider and I’m dealing with the consequences for anywhere from three days to a week. Which means actual progress is nonexistent and that’s bloody frustrating. It feels like it’s a choice between being a normal, social human or being a hermit and getting somewhere. It feels like I’m being betrayed by my body. I mean, seriously? I can’t have Sour Patch Kids or a cookie or alcohol or a whole plethora of tasty but logically bad for you foods anymore? Stuff that I ate with apparent impunity for YEARS? Le Sigh.
Making some changes
I finally realized I’m currently showing most of the symptoms of leaky gut, so yesterday I started the protocol for that. Had plenty of experience when we did this with hubby. Teenager left today for a two week visit with her grandparents, so I’m gearing up for a two week stint of getting my eating back on track. Picking back up with my protein shakes for breakfast and lunch and pulling out the smaller dishes to reset my appetite. I am forced to acknowledge at 36 I can no longer eat the quantities I used to…at least not without being hella more active than I am right now. And given it was 98 degrees yesterday WITHOUT the heat index, being super more active right now is not what you call real appealing. The whole active thing is sort of an issue right now. So…I decided to go back to what I did when I started Operation Goddess In Training in the first place.
Back to the beginning
I started this journey with my Wii. it was when the things were pretty much new. I started with Wii Fit, expanded to New U Yoga and Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing. I added in running and weighted hula hooping and weights, all in turn. So…I’m going back there. I’m starting over. Today I put fresh batteries in my Wiimotes and the Wii Balance board and I popped in Wii Fit for the first time in 5 years. I’m twenty pounds heavier than I was the last time I used it (which I already knew)–that means, of course, that my little Mii suddenly blimped up to a bowling ball with arms and legs. Fine. Whatever. It’s making me start over and unlock everything all over again. So I started that process today. And it’s another step in the right direction. I’m in a place of baby steps. And that’s okay. As long as those steps are in the right direction. I’m going to start focusing on the things I do right instead of the things I’ve done wrong. They’re done. I’m not.
And because of the consequences I absolutely know that I’ll have from eating some of these things, it makes it easier to say no. Doesn’t always happen, but the consequences are severe enough that I definitely give some serious thought to violating those restrictions. And I definitely have the positive reinforcement of feeling amazing when I actually DO stick to things. Changing lifestyles is rough.
Wow. It’s already the end of Round 2. Where is the year going? I swear it was March just yesterday. Okay, not really. It was over 95 yesterday…
SO let’s check in on the goals I set for this round and what my actual accomplishments were.
I said I would…
- Post at least twice a week on my blog. Yeah…not so much. I’m not sure I even checked in every week during this Round. There’s been a lot going on, including adding a teenager to our household, so I’m not real worried about it.
- Write at least 20 out of 30 days. I did this, but barely. May included a lot of getting ready for said teenager and a fair amount of plotting. Not near as much prose as I’ve become accustomed to. But I did make it!
- Do another round of Whole 30. This was epic fail. We kept trying to start and kept having social events that did not in any way shape or form fit into this kind of challenge. So that’s on the list for after July 4th.
- Finish Sooper Seekrit Project Books 2 and 3. I did knock out Book 2 (Which came in at 72230 words) and I’m currently 25k into another Wishful novel. It wasn’t even on the schedule for this year, but Book 3 of Sooper Seekrit Project hasn’t gelled for me yet, so rather than force it, I pushed the publication of that trilogy back to sometime this fall and dove into a story with characters who WERE talking.
- Get my new website launched. This, I am happy to say, was an absolute success. I gave up trying to bend Cloudpress to my will and found another theme with the ability to modify the elements I needed to. I’m quite happy with the end result.
What were my accomplishments?
- I ultimately wrote 103,203 words from April to yesterday. I actually did the April Round of CampNaNo and cranked out 53k in 24 days (trying to finish before we left for vacation). Of that total, 16,789 were plotting, which made for just over 86k in actual prose. And yeah, that’s nothing to sneeze at.
- Finished Sooper Seekrit Project Book 2 and did first pass revisions. Sent to Awesome Editor.
- Did some initial plotting on SSP Book 3.
- Did some serious revision plotting on SSP Book 1, which I got notes back on from Awesome Editor (yet another reason I’m pushing this trilogy back. It needs more work than I’d originally hoped.)
- Plotted and have half written Wishful Book 6, which is Tucker’s story.
I’m pretty pleased with all of that and looking forward to a successful Round 3.
- I’m just getting around to this over a quick breakfast before running in to work. It’s been a super busy week with the teenager moving in. She’s just about settled. We got art hung yesterday. Now she’s just working on organizing her desk and office supplies.
- Hubs and I took her to see Ghostbusters (original 1984 version) on the big screen yesterday afternoon. You gotta love a kid who appreciates 80s cheese. So many of them see the special effects that look lousy compared to the fancy computer generated kind today and turn their noses up, but she dug it. We also introduced her to The Princess Bride last night. These are the first in a very, very long line of items on her remedial geek education list. She loved that, too, so that’s a yay.
- I cranked out 11,745 words on the new book last week. Nearly 8k of those were since Friday. So I seem to have hit my stride with this one (remind me I said that now that I’ve taken my first steps into the Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle). Coming back to Wishful is always fun and familiar.
- Yesterday I also had a bit of a bucket list moment. To Get Me To You finally hit 100 reviews on Amazon. My first book to get there. So that was super exciting. It’s the threshold I’ve been waiting for before going after a BookBub ad. Which may or may not make a difference in acceptance, but it seemed a good metric anyway. Rumor has it that Amazon does a lot of pushing of stuff in its system once you hit that level. We shall see.
- Must run. Lots to do this week!
It’s been ages since I did a proper check-in. May was full of preparing for teenager’s arrival. I got edit notes back on Sooper Seekrit Project Book 1, which is (as I was afraid) going to take more intensive revision than I had hoped. I’m not done with my plotting for Sooper Seekrit Project Book 3 yet either and after much consideration, I decided that as Book 1 suffered very much from I-Don’t-Know-My-Characters-Yet-itis, I want to write Book 3 before I go back to revise Book 1. Which pushes the planned launch of the trilogy back to the fall. So I jiggered around my production schedule a bit and ended up deciding to write another book in my Wishful series for release this summer–one that hadn’t even been on the docket for writing this year, but what are you gonna do when they start talking?
So I outlined that last week and started writing this past weekend. I’m about 6500 words into the book so far. It’s going well. Going back to Wishful is like visiting an old friend or putting on a pair of my most comfortable jeans. And that’s pretty awesome. It was meant to be a novella. Naturally, it’s not. It’s not the story I originally envisioned for these two, either, but I think it’s actually a lot more fun. So next up from me will be Tucker’s story–which should make recent readers of Just For This Moment pretty happy! He’s up to shenanigans. Because…Tucker.
That’s it. Just a quick and dirty check-in. Back to the grind!
I haven’t posted in ages. The last six weeks have been full of LOTS of changes in the Nolan house…because we have acquired a teenager.
One of my closest friends has joined Teach For America and is moving to Louisiana. Her daughter, who is much like a niece to us, wasn’t keen on going and really wanted to start high school with all her friends here. Hubs and I have often talked of adopting an older child, so we figured this could make the perfect test run since she’s already a kid we know and love. So we made the offer and it turned out to suit everyone involved. The last month has been a flurry of activity, cleaning out a bedroom, refinishing some furniture, getting all the legal stuff taken care of. It’s left little time for writing, which was fine as I was waiting on edits from Awesome Editor anyway.
She finished moving in yesterday and will be on unpacking duty for a while. No one ever realizes how much stuff they have until it’s all pulled out of its place and shoved in boxes or bags. She’s totally a kid after my own heart. Before unpacking anything, she tagged every drawer and shelf with a post it note dictating what would go there. She’s a natural neatnik who’s spent her whole life living in a house with…not neat people. Eventually you get to a point of learned helplessness and give in to the chaos. So she’s excited to be coming to me because I am all about neat and rules and order. After supper last night, we sat around having pie and a deep philosophical discussion about the varying portrayals of Lilith and Lucifer in assorted lore (spawned by Supernatural–because, of course, we were eating pie at the time and what else does one discuss over pie?) before she hit the unpacking again. Because she’s a cool kid like that. She’s lusting after my library. We’re going to have to label her books…we have a lot of the same ones. I can’t wait until she finishes The Infernal Devices. I gotta have somebody else to discuss the world’s most perfect ending to a love triangle.
So…yeah. We’re rocketing into parenthood late in the game! This is gonna be an adventure.
- I’ve been enjoying some much needed hermitude this weekend. There’s just been a lot of social this past month, so I’m finding the quiet very restorative.
- I’ve been in the kitchen this morning. I haven’t actually gotten around to my menu for the week yet, but I made up some fresh turkey sausage to freeze, a couple of quiches, hard boiled eggs, and a fresh batch of marinara. Yesterday I made a behemoth batch of chicken shwarma (4.5 pounds!).
- Know Me Well got a facelift this week. I was never quite happy with the original cover I’d made for it and I finally came across a couple that I thought suited Liam and Riley. So that’s been posted and is trickling live at all the various etailers.
- I’m working my way through a crit, doing some more reading for fun, and I finally got started on Sooper Seekrit Project Book 3. I’ve been so twitchy the last few weeks. I did take a slow stretch to finish first pass revisions on Book 2, but this is the longest I’ve gone without drafting something (nearly a MONTH) in about three years. Maybe longer. I was really worried I’d have crippling page fright (I often do, even when I’ve only stopped for a couple of days), but I cranked out the first 1k yesterday without too many problems. I’m wanting to finish that scene today and get started on the intro to the hero. I’m not done plotting, but I’m testing out something I did with Book 2–hitting my major plot points, plotting out Act 1, and writing that (to get to know my characters better) and THEN going back to plot the rest of the book. It worked well for the second book in this trilogy, so I’m hoping I’ll have the same success this go round.
- I’m up to my eyeballs in class prep right now. Summer semester starts June 2nd, so I have until then to finish updating everything to go with the new textbook. This means that I will be recording 5 lectures this afternoon and I won’t have a voice when I’m finished. Then 4 more tomorrow. Bleh. Not how I wanted to spend the end of my weekend, but it’s nearly done.
- We’ve been testing Huck with some additional freedoms, leaving his crate door open at night for the last week. So far he’s doing awesome. Just goes in and snoozes like usual. It’ll be a while longer before I’m willing to try that when we’re not actually HERE, but he generally doesn’t mess with stuff inside. He’s got a bunch of toys and he’s perfectly happy with them.
- I bought paperbacks for the first time in YEARS. I wanted to read the rest of Louisa Edwards’ Recipe For Love series, and I couldn’t stomach paying $7.99 for an ebook. Not when I could get used copies of all 5 of the books I was missing for the cost of about 2.5 of said ebooks. Which I kind of hate because the author doesn’t get anything off those used book sales (other than a devoted fan), but it is what it is. Cracked open one on Friday…holy crap. Did mass market paperbacks ALWAYS have 8 point font? I had to pull out the reading glasses I haven’t used since grad school. :pets Paperwhite:
I am presently hanging out in the reader’s version of when you are noshy and standing in front of the fridge but absolutely nothing is quite right and you don’t have any idea what you want.
I keep picking different things up and putting them back down because nothing is quite hitting the right note for me. There have been a couple of things I’ve tried that were interesting and not at all bad, but just wasn’t what I wanted. I’m definitely coming back to Seanan McGuire’s Indexing serial, which I started in audio. The premise is really intriguing and the worldbuilding is really good. I just don’t have the attention span for it right now. It’s part of why I’ve been on a contemporary binge for the last couple of years–I’m so busy with so many things in my brain that I don’t have the mental capacity to keep anything with serious worldbuilding in my head unless I can binge read it.
One incredibly disturbing thing I keep coming across–and I hope to God this isn’t an actual trend–but I’ve picked up three books in the last week where the heroine…just kind of lost her shit with the prospective hero. And this was not, like, Black Moment justifiable upset. It was early on in all the stories. In one, the hero was kind of gruff and taciturn, bordering on rude…which evidently gave the heroine license to be exceptionally rude back in a “Yeah, well…[insert comeback that would be more fitting in the halls of a high school]” kind of way. The author was obviously trying to set up for that whole enemies to lovers trope and instead of coming off as unwilling attraction being translated into snark, it made the heroine look immature and foolish. And also made their suddenly getting all handsy and making out on the beach wholly unbelievable (and let’s not even get started with where sand got during that interlude…it was not sexy and all I could think of on behalf of the heroine is OW OW OW OW OW). In another, the prospective hero is a famous dude, whom the shero doesn’t have any reason to recognize. When they meet he gives her his actual name (as opposed to the name the media calls him). And when they run into each other a little bit later and it comes out that he is this famous personage (whom she’s heard of but had never seen), she literally loses her shit and acts like he deliberately lied to her because he was a douchecanoe. I mean, I get that she’s sensitive to this given her ex-BF turned out to be married and had been lying about it, but her reaction seemed utterly off the rails and she comes off as a total whack job–and not the adorkable kind of a good romantic comedy. Apparently her definition of lying is not the same as mine. In her shoes I think I’d have been justifiably embarrassed, but there’d be no reason at all to tell him off.
As a woman–and a rational woman at that–I find this kind of behavior both unrelatable and frankly embarrassing. It’s the sort of thing that strikes me as a stereotype of the hysterical woman…generally not founded in plot (or reality). It makes women everywhere look bad. And it definitely DOES NOT make for adequate or enjoyable conflict in fiction. I don’t know if this is a Thing or if this was a mark of the skill of the authors in not quite understanding how to support such conflicts or what. But they definitely migrated to my Did Not Finish shelf. So, yeah, other than working my way through la Nora’s latest romantic suspense, The Obsession, I’ve been left very unsatisfied on the reading front the last couple of weeks.
- The last week has been super busy catching up on All The Things that got put off, either in the name of finishing that first draft or because we were on vacation or whatever. So the story of my life the last week has been GO GO GO GO GO.
- I’ve got approximately 2 weeks left to finish updating my summer class to go with the new textbook. It drives me crazy when they put out new editions. Especially for subjects like Theories of Learning, which hasn’t changed much since the 70s. There’s very little actual NEW material, they just moved stuff around in different chapters–just enough that I mostly can’t use my old lectures wholesale. And since I teach online, this means updating the powerpoints and RERECORDING (and re-editing) them. Time consuming PITA.
- I finished first pass revisions on Sooper Seekrit Book 2 yesterday morning. Book 1 is still with Awesome Editor, so I’ll let Book 2 sit until Book 1 comes back. Meanwhile, my focus is on getting Book 3 fully plotted. I knocked out the concept for Act 1 this morning. Hoping I’ll be ready to dive into that one on Monday…that will put me having taken a month off from drafting, which is very unlike me.
- I’ve been taking advantage of the time off to get to a few things around the house that have been lingering for…approximately the 4 years since we moved in. Saturday I tackled cleaning out the guest room. There was lots of evidence of the hurried “OMG, people are coming over. Hide the stuff so we look like civilized, neat people!” brand of cleaning–which means, of course we forgot about most of that stuff. I tossed out 3 garbage bags full of stuff, did some reorganizing, and moved a couple of boxes of stuff into the attic. I seem to be managing about a closet a year since we moved in. I just seldom stop writing long enough to get to this kind of stuff.
- I’m ready for some serious hermitude after the last week. Between Mother’s day, family coming to town on my side and hubby’s, lunch with friends, girls’ night, and another friend of hubby’s coming to visit, I had WAY too much social interaction. All GOOD, I’m just really drained.
- Hubs has introduced me to Baby Daddy on Netflix, which is hilarious. I love a good sit com. There’s a love triangle (which normally I hate) and I can’t decide which team I’m on. But it’s good, light, funny entertainment, which is about where my brain is right now.
- Been reading a ton. Finished Starfish Moon, the last of the Brides of Blueberry Cove from Donna Kauffman. Knocked out the last of Sarah Morgan’s Puffin Island Trilogy Christmas Ever After (which was released as One Enchanted Moment in a collection for some reason instead of independently in the US), which I totally loved. Also read Jen Frederick’s Revealed To Him, which was surprisingly good. Finished Maisey Yates’ One Night Charmer. Blew through the first of Brenna Aubrey’s Gaming the System series At Any Price. Great narrator for the audio. I started Tricia O’Malley’s Wild Irish Heart this morning. I’ve picked up and put down a lot of stuff. I have a 6 month Kindle Unlimited subscription that I’ve been using to fill my desire for audiobooks, but I’ve blown through the entire romantic comedy section and I’m running low on things I really want to listen to. But my Audible subscription kicked back in this month, so I just have to narrow it down and decide what I want.