Category Archives: Life

Snapshot: June 30, 2015

Time: Hah! I’m being a really really good blogger and writing this at 11:11 pm the night before.

Feeling: Well, I’ve had a glass of wine, so I’m feeling good. Does that count?

Eating: A blade steak, to go with my wine. I think in the US it’s called a flatiron steak?

Drinking: Wine (a Malbec) *cough*

Reading:

bishops wife

I wish! I’m still in a reading slump. But I did dive a little into The Bishop’s Wife and it’s quite intriguing. I’m not very familiar with the Mormon religion, and this promises to be both a good read and a good way to learn more about the Mormon religion.

Listening: I’ve been working and listening to the last few chapters of The Strain. Liking my reread (relisten?) so much, I downloaded the next two books in the trilogy from the library.

Writing: Can I just say, I’m REALLY REALLY NERVOUS about the Dark Fantasy writing class I’ll be attending mid-July, the one that’s taught by Kelley Armstrong? First, there’s the “I already know this” knowledge that I’m probably going to be the oldest person attending the class *sigh*. Second, there’s the fact that it’s a workshop and I’m going to be getting a critique of the first 20+ pages of my dark fantasy WIP Sweetness and Dank (and that’s a working title, in case you were thinking That’s a pretty strange title).

Working: I’m working on indexing a huge (massive!) criminal law text book. Think roughly 1400 pages and you’ll be almost right.

Photo of the week:

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Hobbes has been under the weather this week (hairballs from grooming Creeper, I think) but Creeper’s been taking care of him. :)

Snapshot: June 25, 2015

Time: 1:05 pm

Feeling: Revved up and motivated—yay!!

Eating & Drinking: I have fallen in love with savoury green smoothies. Last week we bought a NutriBullet blender/liquifier and I’ve been having a blast with it. I searched for savoury green smoothie recipes, then ended up making up one of my own based on seeing what other people are using in theirs.

Basically I throw in a tomato, some cucumber, a handful of cilantro, a cup of plain kefir, a quarter of a small onion, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of flaxseed, a half a tablespoon of potato starch and salt to taste. Zap it for about a minute, and it’s the most delicious veggie drink ever. And the bonus? It’s pretty filling, so easily substitutes for a light lunch.

Reading: I’m in a reading slump. Yes, I figured I should just bold that for good measure. I think it’s because I’m feeling both productive and busy, and I’m scared if I pick up a good book, I’ll end up sucked in for hours on end.

Whatever the reason, though, I haven’t picked up either a print book or a physical book for a week, other than continuing with my reading of Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. It’s not really a “how to write” book, but rather more a memoir type book in which Highsmith describes how she came to write several of her works.

But I’m headed to the library later today to pick up some holds, so something enticing might get my out of my slump. I can hope, anyway!

Watching: On the other hand, maybe what I just wrote above about being scared that picking up a good book will blow my productivity right out of the water is just an excuse. Because I started watching season 2 of “Agents of Shield” on Netflix last night …

Listening:

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I’m skipping around between a bunch of things (which is often what happens when I’m in a reading slump): Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (I have the omnibus in print version in my TBR stack—all the books in the series will be rereads for me); The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, another reread/relisten; and Bryant & May: The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler.

Writing: I’m finally working on those first 20 pages of my dark fantasy, for my summer writing workshop class with Kelley Armstrong. Memory gave a me some great developmental feedback, and my older son also read my first draft and pointed out the things which puzzled him or weren’t clear. I’ve got lots of good points to work on now, and both of them tell me what I’ve got so far is very interesting, so I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Working: I’m back on a productivity binge. I’ve decided to try doing a daily braindump to-do on Trello and so far (for today, anyway), it’s been working. Doing the braindump turns out to be quite the relief for my poor brain which has been trying to juggle everything.

And having a list of things, big and little, seems to be helping, too. I pick and choose depending on my mood. Like this blog post.

I’ve already moved several things to the “done” list, which feels great.

Kijiji: Ward and I finally got around to listing something on Kijiji—a computer desk we no longer need or use—and I can’t believe how easy the whole sales transaction went. I listed the desk late Monday night, and someone emailed us at 7:00 in the morning the very next day. The desk was gone by early afternoon!

I have a friend who recently downsized from a huge house to a condo; she had a blast selling her too-big furniture on Kijiji. She told me it becomes addictive. I can certainly see how that could happen!

So that’s been my week so far. How’s your week been? Any tips for battling a reading slump?

Gay Mean Girls, a coming of queer dramedy

My daughter Hayley is the DoP (Director of Photography) for Gay Mean Girls. It’s a beautiful short film, well worth watching. And when you’re done, you can go to IMDB and rate it!

I’m really excited about the plans for the film—Hayley and Coco (Heyishi Zhang, the director) will be making this into a Web series! Follow Gay Mean Girls on Tumblr to stay in the know about dates and such!

Snapshot: June 16, 2015

Time: 6:26 pm

Feeling: Ready for a nap. Mainly because I’ve been up since 6:30 am—although sadly I didn’t end up gong for a walk because (a) it was raining, (b) I decided to get some social media work done first and (c) by the time I finished up the rain had stopped and things were looking too hot outside for a walk.

Eating: We’ve been eating out too much. Or so says the latest credit card bill. Sigh. I want to spend some time looking for crunchy summery salads with a dash of protein. Maybe I’ll have a cool new recipe to link to in next week’s Snapshot …

Drinking: I’ve started making kefir smoothies! I add spinach and whatever fruit I have on hand and feel rather nutritionally virtuous as a result. On the days when I remember to make them, that is.

Reading: The reading’s taken a bit of back seat because I just haven’t had much time for it lately. *sob*

BUT I’m really excited about this:

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Ernest Cline’s Armada is being released on July 15 and what’s even more exciting? Wil Wheaton is narrating the audio version! I already have an Audible credit earmarked for it.

I’m also eyeing the Atlas Shrugged (#AtlasRAL) Readalong that Ti’s hosting over July and August. I’ve not been doing so well with my readalongs, though. I didn’t finish a single readalong book from last month, and this month I’m definitely behind with the #MiseryRAL readalong.

Listening:

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I’m having much better luck with my audiobooks. I’m listening to Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May—The Burning Man right now. It’s always nice to slip back into the world of Bryant and May (I want to say they’re octogenarian detectives, but I’m actually not sure exactly how old they are. But May is four years younger than Bryant. I think.)

Writing: The deadline for submitting my dark fantasy for the workshop class I’m taking from Kelley Armstrong next month is June 29, so I still have some time left to make my revisions. Whew.

Working: I finished up an index on Sunday night, and this week I have five articles to write. Work on the book marketing for Booktrope is going well.

I also got started with my big readers’ site project—well, sort of. I’m still developing the site, but I finally got the Twitter account up and running: @bookstormcafe! While of course it would be lovely if you’d give it a follow, I should warn you that it is simply chockful of tweets about book news, book giveaways, new book releases, book reviews and author interviews. I’m not kidding—the tweet stream is loaded. It’s been fun diving into all this bookish stuff on the one hand, but on the other hand, let me just say there’s an awful lot of book news, book giveaways and new books out there!

Playing:

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We’ve had the Lord of the Rings board game for a while, and finally opened it up last night. It was a lot of fun (once we figured out the rules) but there was a certain cat who kept wanting to join us.

Looking forward to: The weekend! For once I’m actually getting out and about. We have tickets to see Titanic the Musical this Friday night, and then on Saturday a friend of mine is holding a girls-only birthday bash, which should be fun.

What about you? How has your week been so far? And what are your plans for the rest of the week?

A Rather Eerie Sight This Morning

On Friday mornings I do my morning walk with my friend Christy. It rained this morning, so we decided to stay on the sidewalk rather than along the Harbourfront, and walk farther west on Toronto’s Queen’s Quay than we normally do.

And that’s when we came across a little park on the waterfront called Ireland Park.

It was a cloudy, wet morning, and these statues in the park came as something of a surprise to both of us.

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Quite the eerie sight! I’m glad I was there with Christy; there was no-one else around, and the air had that thickness to it you often get when it rains. Queue some scary music and a bit of fog, and I would have been out of there like a shot. But since Christy is one of those comforting, practical people you’d want to have with you in a haunted house, I stayed and even took pictures.

So of course I had to look up “Ireland Park” when I got home. It turns out Ireland Park is a memorial to the 38,000 Irish immigrants who came to Canada in 1847 to escape famine; more than 1,000 of them died that summer.

The statues are by artist Rowan Gillespie, and there are similar statues on Dublin’s quay side.

There is also a large limestone wall, which was shipped from Ireland. The names of those who died are engraved on it. According to Robert Kearns, the chair of the Ireland Park Foundation, “It represents the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland, the last sight seen by emigrants leaving home. The names of the dead are engraved on the gaps in the wall. The park is really a cemetery without bodies, for the people who didn’t make it.”

Yes, it was definitely a very interesting walk today!

Snapshot: June 10, 2015

Time: 9:26 p.m.

Feeling: Pretty good. Probably a good thing that I didn’t write my Snapshot yesterday, when I was feeling rather bummed out. Today? Much better.

Eating: Nothing spectacular to report today. I do have an organic steak defrosting right now. I had a mostly-veggie dinner earlier and sadly, this is my later-in-the-evening snack. Sadly, because I’ve been trying to kick the late-night eating habit but it’s too hard.

Drinking: It’s too hard because of the wine. I like to have a glass of Malbec at nights, but I don’t like to drink wine without food. Quite the dilemma, no?

Reading: I’m still reading Misery for #MiseryRAL but haven’t gotten too much further into the book yet.

I spent some time today reading a bit more of Gideon by Alex Gordon. I’m past the historical chapters, so just diving into the present-day scenes. It’s been very interesting, and so far I can see it living up to the blurb on the back of the book:

Gideon blurb

Listening: I just finished Peter Clines’ The Fold this morning and all I can say is: go read it if you like sci-fi thrillers!! It was so good. I like how Clines gives us the science without it being too academic or overwhelming. And the ending! I was on the edge of my seat (actually, I was running/walking at the time—even though I haven’t been bringing an audiobook with me on my walks, I decided to this morning because I only had about half an hour to go and I just had to find out what happened. Luckily, I finished the audiobook before it got dark and cold and the skies started spitting rain …)

thefold

I really liked the protagonist, Mike Erikson, and I’m hoping we’ll get to see him in another book. Ray Porter’s narration was stellar. I definitely recommend this one in audio.

Writing: I finally “got” the short story i was working on way back in April when I was trying to write a short story a week (and then my mom broke her hip and my time and daily schedule went out the window). I’d written down the first paragraph a few weeks ago, and yesterday the rest of it came to me, so that was nice. I haven’t had a chance yet to write it out, but I did capture notes so I wouldn’t forget anything.

I still have to get the first 20 pages of my dark fantasy ready for my workshop course with Kelley Armstrong next month … I’m definitely procrastinating!

Working: I’ve got an index due next week, some more articles, and I’m working on the book marketing stuff, of course.

I’ve also decided to work on something fairly large as a complement to the book marketing: a site for readers. Not a Bookriot-type of site, but one for those readers who aren’t already blogging about books or a part of the online book community, but who do like to go online to get information about books. I think a site like that would be excellent for featuring book bloggers too, so I’m working on incorporating weekly features that will promo book bloggers somehow into my ideas as well.

Since I tend to try for too big too soon, which just overwhelms me, right now I’m developing the features I want to have, but I’m going to begin implementing them a bit at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed. Wish me luck, because I’m going to need it!

Stress Relief: I’ve been doing quite well! I think the walking has a lot to do with it. I’m juggling a lot of things but so far I’ve been quite good at keeping the overwhelm at bay. Hopefully I can keep it up!

Sunday Morning Walk: Meditation (sort of), Observations, and Distractions

I’ve been loving my morning walks, but one thing that’s gotten shifted to the side as a result is my meditation. My mornings are now so full, and when I get back from my walk, I’m just not feeling in the meditation spirit.

So this morning I decided to try a walking meditation. A friend of mine had sent me this YouTube meditation, which she highly recommended:

So I thought I’d give it a try today, while I was walking. As soon as I finished the running portion of my walk (I’m up to, oh, maybe five minutes now?) I slipped on my earbuds and played the meditation.

It’s a beautiful meditation, but it turned out I just can’t do the walk and meditate thing. After fifteen minutes, I absolutely had to stop and sit, so that I could finish the meditation. I found a beautiful spot where I could watch the waves come in, and the final fifteen minutes were really lovely.

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On my way back, I let myself observe everything the way I normally do on my walks (when I’m not trying to meditate). No wonder I found it so hard to meditate while I was walking!

There are so many people out and about along Toronto’s Harbourfront. One of the things I love doing is people watching, and it turns out I spend a lot of my walking time doing that.

And the distractions? Well, on my way back, a bird divebombed me. It felt like it landed on my head and immediately took off again. When I got home I made everyone check my head to make sure I didn’t have a bird scratch or two on  my scalp.

It’s a good thing I haven’t been reading du Maurier’s “The Birds” at the time, or I probably would have run all the way back home.

 

Snapshot: June 2, 2015

Time: 3:19 pm

Feeling: A little disappointed. I worked late last night, which meant I was late getting to bed, which means I woke up later than I have been recently … which means I didn’t have my morning walk.

The plan is to go for a walk when Dylan’s at his dance class. Only problem is, I’ll be carrying my handbag so I don’t know how pleasurable it will be walking and lugging that thing around with me at the same time …

Eating: Ward recently made this Thai Celery Salad with Peanuts, and when I tasted it, I said, “We absolutely have to add cooked shrimp to this!” (Notice the we? *cough*) So he made it again, only this time he added a bag of cooked shrimp, which he chopped into half-inch pieces.

And I was right. It IS delicious! A perfect summer salad. So if you do want to give the recipe a try, I’d suggest you add shrimp for an entreé-ready dish.

Thai Celery and Shrimp Salad

Drinking: I really could use another coffee. Might make another decaf.

Reading:

misery

Why, Misery, of course, for Care’s #miseryRAL readalong this month! Anyone else joining in on the readalong fun?

Listening:

thefold

This would be a classic example for an article entitled “Why Newsletter Marketing Works”. (Or maybe it’s just an example of how much of a consumer pushover I am …). I just received an email from Audible telling me that Peter Clines’s new book, The Fold, is now available in audio. I didn’t even realize he had a new book out! So of course I had to scoot over and spend last month’s credit on it, because I’d enjoyed his previous book, 14, so much.

Working: I’m a little afraid if I type out everything I’m working on, I’ll immediately crash into overwhelm. On the bright side, aside from three legal articles I need to get done for Thursday, much of what I’m doing has to do with the book marketing for Booktrope and it’s very, very enjoyable. It’s just that there’s SO MUCH TO DO. Argh.

Writing: And then it dawned on me last night, my writing workshop course with Kelley Armstrong starts mid-July which is only six weeks away. I hadn’t realized it was coming up so fast. I need to have the first 20 pages of my dark fantasy ready for workshopping by the end of this month!

Procrastinating: So of course, with all the work I have to do, I spent a pleasurable two hours organizing my Goodreads shelves. It kind of makes me feel productive. Sort of.

The rest of today: I have nearly two more hours to get stuff done, and then it’s off to hip hop class with Dylan. During which I may, or may not, take my walk. I should, because my Instagram is missing its #dailywalk photo. Or so I think.

Saturday Random: Naps and Flowing with Changes

Guess what? I DID wake up early enough yesterday to go for that 7:15 a.m. walk with my friend (we actually changed it to 7:30 a.m., but still!). And here’s what I’ve discovered: if I’m getting up at 6:30 a.m., I feel very “nappish” at around 4:00 p.m.

But there appears to be an art to napping. I was literally sitting on my sofa, fighting against my eyes closing as the warm afternoon sun embraced me … but when I finally gave in and actually took off my contacts and lay in bed?

No nodding off. Nothing even close to sleep.

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How do cats do it?!

I’m definitely going to have to explore this more. Simply put, I prefer walking earlier in the day to later (not quite as hot, plus I feel more productive). I’ve been waking up earlier as a result (although not quite as early as I did yesterday), and I think adding a nap to my productivity repertoire might be a very helpful thing.

——–

And changes. Ah, yes.

You see, I didn’t blog yesterday. Lately I’ve been wrestling with this whole 365 days of blogging thing. Back in November when I decided I was going to do this, yes I was, I had two main goals: (1) to get out of a blogging slump (or a no-blogging-at-all slump, really) and (2) to prove to myself I had the discipline to blog daily.

Back then, I didn’t foresee all the changes that would happen this year. Like my mom breaking her hip and how big an impact that would have on my time. Or my branching out more fully into freelance writing. Or my taking on a position as a marketing manager with the publishing company Booktrope.

A while back, for Bloggiesta, I wrote a post about how to come up with a treasure trove of blog post ideas. And while I’m still getting ideas for blog posts, there have definitely been days when I was just juggling too much to sit down and do a blog post justice. I’d do it anyway, but I doubt those posts were anywhere close to my best posts.

So yesterday, I didn’t feel like blogging. I’d been to see my mother, and then I ran errands after, adding lots more steps to the ones I’d taken for my daily walk. When I got home I was feeling “nappish” (see above) since I’d gotten up so early. After an aborted attempt at a nap, it was time for dinner. And since I didn’t nap, I was really drowsy by 9:00 p.m.

I was asleep before 11:00 p.m. Really really early, for me. And while I thought about blogging in that time between 9:00 and 11:00, my heart really wasn’t in it. And I really couldn’t see the benefit of sitting down anyway and writing a blog post.

So … I’m going to flow with the changes in my life. There will be days when I have a lot on my plate, and on those days, I’m not going to worry about not writing a blog post. I figure, my 365 days of blogging just won’t be consecutive. That works for me!