Saturday Thoughts

I haven’t done a Saturday “this is what’s going on with me” post for ages, so I figured it was about time. And after this week, I actually might be posting something like this regularly on Saturday – because starting next Saturday, I’ll have more time.

The Big List of Book Giveaways

Why will I have more time?

Tomorrow will be my last “Big List of Book Giveaways” post for The Sunday Salon. I will still be posting a giveaways list on Sundays, but after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to change the theme of the list and focus only on giveaways that are open worldwide. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, ever since I read this post at J. Kaye’s book blog, where she mentions that Bookworming in the 21st Century posts Link a Contest Thursday every Thursday, and it’s so easy – if you have a giveaway, you just enter it into her Mr. Linky.

The Big List of Book Giveaways post had gotten to the point where it took up a big chunk of my Saturdays, but I’d been reluctant to give it up because it seems to be so helpful to everyone. Reading through the comments I’ve gotten, I saw that a lot of people liked the fact that I state whether a giveaway is open worldwide or not. So it makes sense to me to narrow down the focus to just international book giveaways – hopefully the list will continue to be helpful for everyone (since everyone can enter), and I get to take back some of my Saturdays!

I’m A Cheerleader for the October Read-a-thon!

I never know what I’m going to be doing on any given day until that day comes (in addition to being a moody reader, I also like to adjust my life around whatever I happen to feel like doing at the moment). So, while the idea of participating in the October Read-a-thon is so tempting, I know myself well enough to know it’s probably not a good idea.

Cheerleading, on the other hand? I can do that! So I’ve signed up to be a cheerleader for the October Read-a-thon, and am in the process of dusting off my Twitter and commenting pom poms. I will try to follow the lead of that great Read-a-thon cheerleader, Beth Fish Reads, whose impressive cheering performance during the April Read-a-thon was really what inspired me to sign up to cheer this time around.

If you’d like to participate in the Read-a-thon, or want to give cheerleading a try, just head on over to Dewey’s Read-a-thon.

100-Mile (160.1 km) Fitness Challenge

Fitness Challenge I’ve been noticing that I seem to have gotten, um, a bit more rounded, shall we say, over the past six months. With both the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts approaching, now seems like a good time to start running again.

Synchronicity struck – I was over at Amanda’s The Zen Leaf and she mentioned she was signing up for the 100-Mile Fitness Challenge. Perfect! So I’ve signed up, too, and hope this is the motivation I need to get running again. I’ve been noticing that my thighs feel sore after I go upstairs – I truly feel like I’m climbing the stairs, like they were some big huge mountain. Not to mention that out-of-breath feeling. So it really is time to do something about it.

My treadmill gives me Canadian distances, so for me, the challenge will be, roughly, 160.1 km over the next three months It turns out my treadmill gives me miles, not kilometres!. And I’m probably going to start out by walking first. I’ve got a ton of audiobooks waiting to accompany me, so my challenge posts will actually be bookish!

So, What’s Up With NANTUCKET?

I haven’t written anything about my progress with NANTUCKET because I haven’t made any progress with it since the last time I posted about it. I know – it’s a very sorry state of affairs. I still have three scenes to write, after which I can say, “I did it! It’s finished!”

You’d think it would be easy to get motivated to write those final scenes, but I have a small confession to make. NANTUCKET has always been my “practice” novel. After not having written anything for so long, I needed to show myself that I could do it. Since I wanted to use that first book to get myself back into writing, I decided to use one of my good ideas, and not one of the ideas about which I am really passionate.

And it’s worked, too. I have been able to write regularly, consistently, even when inspiration seemed far off. I have sat at the keyboard and invited my muse, rather than waiting on the sidelines for my muse to show up first (she never does, I’ve noticed).

But I haven’t felt inspired to write the ending, and worse, I haven’t been sitting down, so the muse hasn’t appeared.

I’m going to finish this manuscript though. I have to, because I’m itching to start the prep work for my NaNoWriMo novel (code name WAVERLEY), and I’m using this itch as an incentive to finish NANTUCKET. And I’m looking forward to pulling that first draft out of a drawer six weeks later and seeing how it reads, too.

So this is my long-winded way of saying, yes, I’ll be writing that “I’m Finished!” post soon.

Currently Reading

I am about a quarter of the way into Tana French’s The Likeness, and while I’ve been enjoying it, I got tempted out of the book when I picked up a copy of The Lost Art of Gratitude, the latest Isabel Dalhousie novel by Alexander McCall Smith. I haven’t been able to resist dipping into it, and I’ve quite enjoyed the handful of pages I’ve read so far.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I like the Isabel Dalhousie series so much. It’s certainly not for the mystery, because it’s definitely not the mystery that drives each of these books. I think it’s because I like how Isabel Dalhousie’s mind works, how, as a philosopher, she is always going off on these strange thought tangents all the time. She’s just so interesting, intelligent and self-aware.

I also like the fact that she’s an older woman in a stable relationship with a younger man. Many of my friends are in similar relationships, but I’ve noticed that this kind of relationship never shows up much in fiction. McCall Smith does a good job with it, I think.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. What about you? What have you been up to this week?

37 thoughts on “Saturday Thoughts

  1. Belle

    You know what’s funny? I love and have read most of McCall Smith’s works set in Scotland, but have yet to start the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series! I have the first book in the series, both in print and in audio. I did try the audio but it didn’t quite grab me (although I’ve listened to all of the Scotland Street books in audio). I think I really need to pull this one off the bookshelf and give it a try.

    Reply
  2. Dorte H

    As a Scandinavian blogger I think a list of international giveaways is just fine 😉

    Good to hear you have made a plan that can help you through the last scenes of your novel!

    My writing goes up and down a lot, but this week I have made some research, written down a plan for how I am going to integrate my new information, plus added 500 words to the book itself. Not exactly a major step forward, but okay for a busy week.
    .-= Dorte H´s last blog ..Stieg Larsson, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet´s Nest (2009) =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      I don’t have anything to show for my writing this week, Dorte :( You definitely did okay for a busy week.

      I’ve been thinking also that I might just write the big final scene and be done with it. There are SO many things that will need to be rewritten/revised (the one challenging thing about writing a mystery by the seat of my pants, I think), and this final scene is probably the only scene that won’t change, since I’ve always known who the villain is.

      Reply
    1. Belle

      Thanks, Kathy! And I figure, even if the giveaways are international, everyone will still benefit. And I get my Saturdays back :)

      Reply
  3. rhapsodyinbooks

    Ack, it’s killing me that Dorte was able to get vol. 3 of the Larsson trilogy. (I think in the U.S. we have to wait until next spring at least.)

    I checked out the 100 mile fitness challenge, and it seems like a LOT of miles in a short time! And I hate that housework doesn’t count! :–) So I’m even more impressed you think you can do it with all that is on your plate!

    I’ve been doing major housecleaning because someone is coming to see our house on Sunday. Whenever we are trying to sell a house, the same thing happens. While I’m trying to do MAJOR cleaning, I break or ruin something. Yes, I did it again! I used some chemical on the sink to get the calcium off and took half the sink coating with it! Ack! LET’S NOT TELL MY HUSBAND, ANYONE!!! I think I’ll stick to reading blogs; it’s safer!!!
    .-= rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog ..National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      You scared me there for a moment, Jill. I hadn’t actually thought about how much I’d have to run in the time given (and I’ve lost a few days). I had to take out the calculator and see just now! If I don’t count the few days lost, it’s 1.5 km a day, which isn’t too bad. It fits into my “it only takes 30 minutes” break-into-a-new-habit formula, anyway!

      I didn’t know you’re selling your house! I guess chances are slim that you’re planning to move to a different country, like, oh, I don’t know … Canada? Toronto, more specifically? (Well, one can only hope!)

      What do I get for not telling your husband about the accident with the sink?

      Reply
  4. Margot

    I like these Saturday chats of yours. I’ve been thinking of doing something similar. It feels more like a Saturday visit with a sister or a good friend.

    I’m very glad you are going to gain some time on Saturdays. I look at those Sunday lists and can tell it must take forever to complete. You are an ambitious person, however, so I know you’ll fill your new time with other things – uh, like maybe running and cheerleading and more writing.
    .-= Margot´s last blog ..Meet Grant Williams – A Kansas Author =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      Oh, Margot, thank you! I like the idea that my Saturday posts of “doings” feels like a visit with a sister or a good friend. If you did one, it would be like visiting each other!

      And how did you get to know me so well? Yes, I’m very good at thinking up things to do with my time. I’m going to try to stick to writing and reading and running and a spot of cheerleading, and say no to everything else.

      Reply
    1. Belle

      You mean, good for me for putting a stop to it once I realized it’s already taken over my life :) Seriously, though, I do feel very good about making this one change. And the thing I love about the international book giveaways is that there’s so much variety!

      Reply
  5. Carrie K.

    I know how long those links posts take! I don’t blame you for wanting some of your day back. I do my Saturday links post on Friday evening while watching TV with my husband – otherwise it would seem like wasted time!

    I am looking forward to NaNoWriMo, but nervous, too, since I’m a first-timer. How much prep work do you do ahead of the month?
    .-= Carrie K.´s last blog ..Bookish links for Saturday, October 3, 2009 =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      I didn’t do any prep work last year – just kind of plunged right in on Nov 1. I did end up with 35,000 words or something like that. That NaNoWriMo novel was actually NANTUCKET. This year I’m very excited about finally sitting down to work on this particular idea/concept (WAVERLEY), so doing the prep work is a good idea for me – it’s stopping me from plunging right into the writing!

      I’m still going to write this by the seat of my pants, so no outline. Right now, I have the concept and the two main characters and a bit of a fuzzy feeling about some of the things that might take place. I’m thinking about working on a whole bunch of secondary characters this month, not even being really sure who will end up in the book, but having them on hand in case I need them (it’s that kind of a book).

      I’m playing around with the idea of doing character collages for each of these secondary characters – have a little bit of fun with it all.

      Do you outline? Or write and see?

      Reply
      1. Carrie K.

        I’ve only written articles, essays, and short stories before – so never had a need for an outline. I have a vague idea of a plot and a main character for my NaNoWriMo book, but that’s about it. I’m hoping to have at least more of a plot structure and have my character more fleshed out, as well as some idea of other characters, before I start, but we’ll see how much time I actually have!
        .-= Carrie K.´s last blog ..Bookish links for Saturday, October 3, 2009 =-.

        Reply
  6. Robyn Campbell

    What a fabulous idea you have with your Saturday discussions.

    I too started my novel(MG) for NANO. I finished it in June. I am slowly querying and have a pitch with an agent coming up. *fingers crossed* :) The ending wasn’t where I had my problems of getting the the tush in the chair to finish it. It was starting the thing. I kept talking about this novel I was writing, but never really started it. I had always written picture books. Finally last for NANO I actually started writing it.

    I gained a lot of weight while writing it too. About fifteen or so pounds. So fitness is big on my list right now. I am writing another novel, YA this time. I have vowed to loose the weight and to not gain it back while writing. The 100 mile fitness challenge is right up my alley. Thanks for visiting my blog. Have a terrific day. :)

    Reply
    1. Belle

      I did the same thing last NaNo. I started NANTUCKET then – I had such a tough time sitting down, and that really helped. But then I put it away after 35K words and didn’t pick it up until April. I discovered my key to getting into a writing habit is to tell myself “I’m only going to do this for half an hour – what’s half an hour? I can spare half an hour.” It worked well for me, so I have high hopes for this year’s NaNo!

      I’m going to use the “it’s only half an hour” approach for the Fitness Challenge, too – except I’m going to be saying, it’s only 15 minutes :) Let me know if you do the challenge – the more people I know doing it, the more motivated I’ll feel!

      I really enjoyed your blog. I’ve been getting out and about exploring other writers’ blogs and it’s so motivating!

      Reply
  7. Jessica

    I’ve never heard of the Dalhousie series but it sounds interesting. That’s one of the reasons I like the tv show House, the way his mind works.
    You sound so busy! Have fun finishing your manuscript! The end of mine are usually slow too, but I hope you get it done. :-) It’s a wonderful feeling.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog!

    Reply
    1. Belle

      It’s funny, but I don’t usually feel very busy. The only time I ever feel like life’s so busy is when I’m working (the freelancing, not the writing!).

      It’s good to know that others get the same slowing down when they get to the end of their manuscripts. I’ve made so many changes as I’ve been writing, I think I might actually say it’s done and will be ready to be put away for future revisions…

      Reply
  8. Barbara

    I think the hardest part of writing any book is the end. I think subconsciously we just dread finishing it and presenting it to the world – it might fail! No matter how good it is and how well we write, we think we’ll be exposed as a fraud. Or maybe that’s just me, but I’ve heard others admit the same thing. I know one thing, though – writing The End is one HUGE weight off your shoulders.
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Review: "Even Money" by Dick & Felix Francis =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      I think that’s how I’m feeling, too. I know I write well when I’m writing non-fiction. I’m not as sure about my fiction! Have I managed to convey the images I’m seeing in my head? That’s the part that worries me, that I’m not setting down in words the movie I’m seeing in my head.

      Reply
  9. Amanda

    Good luck with Nantucket. I know how it feels to get so near the end and be unable to write those last scenes. Actually, last year I was working on an earlier draft of the book I just finished, and got blocked right near the end like that. I put it aside for a month, then went back and reread it, and I found that I’d put the characters into an unnatural position at one point about 3/4ths of the way in, and everything after that felt weird and forced. That’s why I couldn’t write the end. Once I fixed the awkward part and adjusted everything that came afterwards, the end came nicely. Of course, I redrafted it this year, but still – I learned that sometimes some minor thing goes wrong, and the edits don’t end up being huge, just adjustments, but that clears the way for the end.

    I’m still debating about NaNo. I just don’t know.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Sunday Salon – Personal Banned Books list =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      Amanda, I think this is why I’m having problems. I’ve been very determined not to reread what I’ve written until I’ve finished, but I’ve made lots of changes along the way, and I know that the scene that I need to write next is one that needs to evolve from the previous scenes, and there’s a lot of rewriting I have to do to the previous scenes. So I’m toying right now with printing what I have and saying, yes, I’m done the first draft, because I don’t think I can finish it without rereading everything first. I suspect the end will just flow once that’s done.

      Reply
    1. Belle

      I usually read more plot-driven books, so when I read the Dalhousie books, it’s a great experience for me, because I remember how much I love characters, and how wonderful it is to read a good character-driven novel (that has a plot!).

      Reply
  10. Trish

    Hey Belle, thanks for signing up for the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge! It sounds kind of daunting, but when you figure it’s only 15 minutes of exercise, that’s only 25 hours over 3 months. Wait, maybe that does sound a little daunting. :) In terms of the kilometers, if you want to just convert every 1.6 km into 1 mile and then do the 15 minutes=1 miles that should be fine. I tried to convert the 15 minutes into km but then my head started to hurt! Anyway, thanks again.
    .-= Trish´s last blog ..Sunday Salon 18 – Non-Fiction Reading =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      Trish, I’m hoping I can get back into the fitness habit the same way I got back into the writing habit, which was exactly what you wrote here, thinking of it in terms of just being 15 minutes a day (at first!). I’ve also got a nice big stack of audiobooks waiting for me to start on the treadmill, so I’m really looking forward to it. Tonight will be my first session. I’m hoping to start with 15 minutes a day and then eventually get to running 3 km every other day, and 15 minutes the remaining days. Thanks for thinking up a great challenge, and with the holidays approaching, what great timing!

      Reply
  11. Beth F

    Super post. I like the chatty style and I like knowing what’s going on with you. I think you’ll have a blast cheering. I may end up doing more cheering than reading, but I signed up for both.

    I like that walking challenge and I think I’m going to sign up to. I too need to shed a pound or two before the holidays (which are coming FAST). So I’ll be walking with you and Jill.
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Fall Read-a-Thon: Start Getting Ready =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      You’re brave to sign up for both! I’m really looking forward to it, and I’ll probably do what you did, and try to cheer mostly from Twitter.

      I just realized the holiday feasting is actually HERE! It’s Canadian Thanksgiving this coming weekend. Ward’s planning a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. He’s going to try some of the side Thanksgiving dishes from the latest issue of Bon Appetit. I’m going to be so stuffed next Sunday!

      Reply
  12. Jenners

    Good for you for giving up something that was taking up a lot of your time and that was being replicated elsewhere. It was a great service you provided but I could totally get why you would need to give it up.

    And congrats for trying to “unround” yourself. I need to do the same thing.
    .-= Jenners´s last blog ..And The Winner Is…Booklogged =-.

    Reply
    1. Belle

      Thank you – it does feel good! I’ve yet to take my first steps toward “unrounding”, though. Hopefully tonight I’ll get on the treadmill!

      Reply

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