getting back to normal

Slowly getting over my first (and, hopefully, only) cold of the season. It was sudden and so vicious, I nearly convinced myself it was the flu. Luckily, my fever never reached flu-levels, but I was beyond tired and achy for days. I finally started to feel better on Monday evening and slept through the night without need for cold medicine. Was a little worn after work today, but I think I’ll be back to usual by the end of the week.

On the bright side, I figured out how to wrap up my NaNo outline (call it a fever dream), and finally got around to reading Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, which was an unexpected treat (and a wonder that I didn’t read it earlier). Perfect for the season and just the right twist to the usual vampire YA.

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welcome fall… though the heat is still on

on writing

It’s September! And with it comes the pressing need to get things done before the dark days arrive. Making slow and steady progress with my new writing schedule. I started tracking my word counts sometime in mid-July and have found myself looking forward to writing on the weekends, rather than rushing home to squeeze in a few mediocre pages between dinner, washing up, and bedtime. Since I started tracking, I’ve (re)written a total of 17427 words (the draft now stands at a little over 70k words). There are two and a half more chapters to get through, though I’ve worked past the toughest sections, so the rest should be more manageable. This is the third draft (second major rewrite); I’m going to let it rest a bit and work on some scenes that I need to refine before I try to recruit CPs.

I’ve learned a lot about how I write while working on this draft. Despite all the advice out there, I do believe that we each come to writing in our own way. For me, this means finding what works best for my health and well-being. I’m a fast writer, but if my mind’s not in it, there’s no amount of self-flagellation that will get me to write something worth reading. While there’s something to be said for writing everyday to establish a flow, that method hasn’t worked for me in the last year and a half. I need blocks of time in which to write. I can do that well enough on weekends, but my schedule just doesn’t allow for it on most weekdays anymore (part of the trade-off I made when taking a job with a longer commute but more opportunities for professional growth). Come November, I’ll fast draft (I will NaNo this year); for now, I take the long road.

on reading

A lot of books were read in July. I swept through my bookshelf and got rid of about two bag’s worth of books that I will never read, am just not interested in anymore, or tried a few chapters and didn’t like the style. Among these, were three Georgette Heyers that failed to capture my interest. Given my genre preferences, I really wanted to like Heyer, but after two attempts, I just had to give up. Can’t like them all. I did, however, fall for the new Poldark series, which led me right to the books. So there we are.

on life

New semester, new students, new job roles, lots of stuff to oversee and get done.

I’m on day 20 of a 30 yoga challenge (missed a few days, but I’m back on track now), and trying to get back into my old walking/running habit. My energy has improved somewhat, but there are days when everything just aches and I just want to sleep all day; doing yoga really helps, particularly after sitting at my desk for hours. I haven’t seen any major changes since I started the FitGirls challenge back in April, but I’m definitely more toned and flexible now that I’m concentrating on yoga rather than circuit training.

My hair has also reached a new milestone and is now just grazing the base of my neck… still dull and awful though. I’m seriously considering giving up on this experiment and trimming it back to my usual bob in lieu of a pixie. Ugh, I’m in a style rut and I hate it. I’m going to try a henna dye this weekend to darken it up.

wrapping up, July

on life

It’s been a miserably hot month, but I’ve managed to stick to my workout schedule despite the unrelenting heat and humidity. Speaking of miserable heat, a couple of weeks ago I had a thought regarding my lack of energy during the last few months… I was refilling my weekly pill-box and noticed that the bottle of Synthroid was surprisingly warm. Now, it’s been hot year-round, but especially since my last refill. I decided to test my theory by finding a different place to store my meds, and I think it’s panning out, as I’ve started noticing some real changes in my mood and energy levels. I never really gave it any thought when I lived at my mom’s place, since the house was generally cool, but my apartment features wall A/C units that I only run while at home, so the place warms up during the day, especially during the summer months. Given the extreme temps this year, there hasn’t been  a cool day since winter. If the heat altered my meds, it would explain why I’ve been so drained for the last few months. Some days it’s been nearly impossible to work up the desire to do more than the minimum, which has really put a damper on my writing and exercise routines. I’m not entirely back to normal; I feel the way I felt when they were first trying to get my thyroid to normal levels, but I do feel better. Tired rather than bone-weary on most days. I hope this means that my energy be back to normal after a few more weeks, but I’m trudging along for now.

on writing

Day 100 has come and gone and with it two more chapters revised. All in all, some good work this month. Once the words started flowing, the words started flowing. I wanted to get a third chapter finished before the end of July, but that’s likely not going to happen until I can sit at my computer for an all day writing marathon on Saturday.

The book is out and an article I co-wrote with some of my fellow library gals is in pre-pub, so all is well in the world of academia.

on books

I’ve been in a trashy romance sort of mood. After reading the Grisha trilogy, I had a hard time finding anything that really sparked my interest, so I started making my way through the adult manga section of the library and weeding my way through my TBR shelf. I found a few gems and some fun reads, and then I picked up a used copy of Teresa Medeiros’s Yours Until Dawn that I purchased at some long ago library friends’ sale and was instantly hooked. Thus began my foray into romance novel binge reading as I devoured several more of her books. Sometimes I just need some sexy fluff in my life. I’m cool with that.

i’ve been reading: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I’ll be posting a reading update later this month, but I just can’t stop myself from gushing over Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. I received a preview of the first three chapters at a library conference and was hooked from the start. It’s been a long time since a book enthralled me so much. I wanted nothing but to stay up all night reading, and that’s saying something (I take sleep very seriously). The writing is just as enchanting as the story; I can’t wait to get a copy of my own so I can read it again, savoring every little detail. This may very well be the best book I read all year. I’m definitely feeling the good book hangover.

the view from sunday: the life-changing magic of tidying up

True story: I’m an organizer. I love keeping things in order. It doesn’t always look tidy, but there’s a method to my madness. My mom, however, has a bit of a problem letting go. Not I… I purge with abandon. Now that she’s retired, it’s time to start getting rid of all the stuff she’s held on to for the sake of work. Plus all that other stuff she’s refused to let go. Hoping to send her on her magic, cleaning journey, I gave her a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up in Spanish (hooray for translations!). To make sure she follows through, I picked up a copy myself. She’ll have no excuse but to get to it.

My mom’s hoarding aside, this book is awesome! There are some claims that make me feel a little squinty-eyed with doubt, but most of the advice is incredibly practical and easy to follow. The life-changing magic part? Learning that I’ve been storing my clothes all wrong. Seriously, who knew storing clothes vertically rather than horizontally makes such a difference? So much free space now! Nothing snags when I open a drawer.

My home is so much lighter without all the clutter. Still have far to go before it’s just right, but it’s a start.

Behold, the great purge! All donated, of course.

Now, to bask in the glory of it all.

2015 in books – a quarterly review of bookish adventures

I’ve read 15 books since January, so I’m well on my way to beating last year’s goal of 30. I’ve also been reviewing for a library-related publication, so my non-fiction reading has increased (and lead to some unlikely gems in the process). There’s a difference between the kind of reading I do for pleasure vs. reading to write a review, but here are some of the best I’ve read so far.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My first book of the new year and it was perfect. Thought-provoking, genre-bending, and a pleasure to read.

A Solemn Pleasure by Melissa Pritchard

Currently in prepub (out May 2015), this collection of essays on subjects as diverse as aging, writing, spirituality, death, dachshunds, and more was just what I needed to get over myself.

Sex Criminals, vol. 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

If you choose to check this graphic novel out from the library (as I did), you will get funny looks. They’re worth it.

 

Meanwhile, I’m reading Twee by Marc Spitz and the final installment in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, Waistcoats & Weaponry, both from the library (which means my effort to get through the TBR pile is just as poor as it was in 2014). Twee is my downtime at work book (for those moments when I need to refresh), while W&W is keeping me sane between writing sessions.

For a complete list, visit my LibraryThing.

all the books I’ve known (in 2014)

There are a few books missing from this list (a few review books that fell through the cracks, and a bunch of books I read on usability that I breezed through), but below is a nearly complete listing of the books I read, loved, and/or gave up on in 2014.

My original goal was to get through 30 of the books on the TBR shelf. I failed, but I made a good effort and weeded a large portion of those that I realized I would never get around to reading (whether because my reading tastes have changed, or they were bought on a whim in a moment of what-was-I-thinking impulsiveness). Working in a library, I have access to new books all the time. I also started reviewing for a trade journal this year and have received some excellent selections; this means that there will always be more books than I will ever be able to get through, so when I decide not to finish a book, it is with the understanding that there are other books to be had and I no longer have to read a book just because a) someone recommended it, b) everyone else is reading it, or c) it will make me look more well-rounded as a reader.

books read in 2014

Key:

  • Books highlighted in bold are my best of 2014
  • ^ = library book
  • * = personal collection (ie. The TBR mountain)

Currently Reading

  • Gwendolen by Diana Souhami
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People by Susan M. Weinschenk^

 Manga and Graphic Novels

  • Ranma 1/2 (2-in-1 Edition), Vol. 1-3 by Rumiko Takahashi^
  • Sailor Moon Box Set 2 (Vol. 7-12) by Naoko Takeuchi*
  • Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura series by Arina Tanemura^
  • Saga, Volume 2 (Saga #7-12) by Brian K. Vaughan^
  • Chi’s Sweet Home series (1-11)  by Kanata Konami^

 Fiction

  • The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink Carnation, #6) by Lauren Willig *
  • Clariel (Abhorsen, #4) by Garth Nix^
  • The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (Pink Carnation, #4) by Lauren Willig*
  • The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope^
  • Long Live the Queen (The Immortal Empire, #3) by Kate Locke*
  • The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne*
  • Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan*
  • City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6) by Cassandra Clare*
  • Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2) by Gail Carriger^
  • The Magicians (The Magicians, #1) by Lev Grossman^
  • Death of a Schoolgirl (The Jane Eyre Chronicles, #1) by Joanna Campbell Slan*
  • Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl^
  • Into the Wilderness (Wilderness, #1) by Sara Donati*
  • The Queen Is Dead (The Immortal Empire, #2) by Kate Locke*
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1) by Robert Galbraith^
  • A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin*
  • Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles, #4) by Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia^

Nonfiction and Essays

  • Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay^
  • Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris*
  • Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties by Rachel Cooke*
  • Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Logic Cuts Deeper Than Swords by Henry Jacoby^
  • VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good by Mark Bittman^
  • Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong by Jessica Bacal*
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling^

Highly anticipated but disappointing

  • Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander, #8) by Diana Gabaldon*
  • Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) by Susan Dennard^
  • Midnight Never Come (Onyx Court, #1) by Marie Brennan*

Books I couldn’t finish

  • Lost Voices (Lost Voices, #1) by Sarah Porter*
  • Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin^
  • The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3) by Deborah Harkness*
  • The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver, #1) by E. Lockhart^
  • The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1) by Erika Johansen*
  • Tanamera by Noel Barber^
  • Beautiful Ruins  by Jess Walter^
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins^
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie*

 Read for work

  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems by Steve Krug^
  • The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley^
  • Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug^
  • Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set …Test! by Carol Barnum^
  • A Project Guide to UX Design: For user experience designers in the field or in the making by Russ Unger^

On writing

  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland*
  • Revision and Self Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells by James Scott Bell*
  • How to Write by Alastair Fowler^
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King^

The plan for 2015 is to keep reading my way through the shelves and finish getting through all those lonely, untouched books that have been waiting for years.