Tag Archives: creating

Snapshot: April 14, 2015

Time: 3:44 pm

Feeling: Hot! It’s double digits out there today, which means it’s really hot inside (we’re in a condo apartment where all outside walls are windows).

Planning: I’m really pleased to report I’ve finally found a planner system that seems to be working for me. I ended up designing my own planner page using a spreadsheet. It’s great—has a time log/scheduling area that tracks from 6:00 am (not that I’ll ever get up that early but I can dream, right?) until 1:30 am. I could have made it go even later, but I’m trying to get to bed a little earlier so I’ve decided 1:30 am will be the latest (but I can change this if it doesn’t work—that’s the beauty of using your own planner template).

Planner.jpgMy planner, with printouts inside

Right now I’m using a combo time tracking/time scheduling technique that’s working really well for me. I only schedule in actual appointments but using the Passion Planner’s weekly pages I map out everything I want to accomplish each day which has made a huge difference. I can’t believe I never did this before. I would just keep everything in my head and while it worked in that I was never late meeting deadlines, it was also really stressful.

And now I am so aware of how much time I have each day to accomplish what needs to be done. Since the deadlines are now easy at the moment, it turns out I have a lot more time each day to work on my own personal things, like my writing, than I realized.

Reading: I’m currently reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The first few pages took some getting used to, but it’s not as tough going as I’d expected. I’m also reading Good Omens which I’m really enjoying. Not that these are two books you can compare, as it would be like comparing apples and oranges. But if I had to pick one, I know which I’d pick!

Listening: I have two audiobooks on the go right now. I’m about a third of the way through David Rosenfelt’s Leader of the Pack, the tenth book in the Andy Carpenter series. It’s a fun, light read. I started this series in audio last year and have been slowly but surely working my way through them.

I’m also listening to Motive, the latest in the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman. It’s been a long time since I last read an Alex Delaware book in print form. I think I’ve listened to the audio versions since around book 14 or 15. I really enjoy John Rubinstein’s narration, particularly the way he does Milo’s voice. I always know it’s Milo!

Writing: I’m struggling with the revisions for Waverley. It’s just overwhelming how much work needs to be done. At times I feel like I haven’t really told the story I want to tell. I started a writing journal yesterday and I’m hoping I’ll be able to use it to tackle the revisions.

Working: My deadlines are nice and steady both this week and next. I’m now consulting my planner for everything and seeing where a potential deadline might cause stress. When I see this happening, before I say yes I’ll talk with the editors about setting a different deadline and they usually have no problems, so that’s been good.

Creating: I got my first colouring book for adults! Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book arrived the other day. I couldn’t resist going out to Staples and stocking up on some supplies:

markers.jpg

Looking forward to: I’ve got a lunch date with my older son tomorrow, shopping with my daughter on Friday and lunch with two of my friends on Sunday. My social calendar isn’t usually that full!

Snapshot: April 7, 2015

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Feeling: Itchy. Itchy. And more itchy.

Itchy It actually started last week, right around the time I got the stomach flu. Just my upper back. Since then, it’s spread to my lower back, my front, my arms, my legs. I went to see the doctor about it this morning (actually, it was a resident plus her supervising doctor, as I couldn’t get in to see my own doctor on such short notice). Since I haven’t made any changes to my environment lately—no new detergent or skin products, no new foods—they think it might be a virus. Either related to the stomach flu virus I had last week, or a new, different virus.

I didn’t know there were viruses out there whose sole purpose is to make you itchy! You learn something new everyday. In the meantime, I’m armed with steroid cream, non-drowsy allergy pills, Benadryl for tonight, and Vicks VapoRub, which the doctor recommended for when the itchiness gets really bad. Something about the menthol can reduce the itchiness, she said. I just had to resort to it a few minutes ago, and it actually seems to be working!

Eating: The book-reading demon made some chickpea burgers from the Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks and they were seriously good. I swear, we’ve been more or less living from this cookbook for the past month and everything we’ve tried so far has been delicious.

Reading: I’m in a bit of a reading lull right now when it comes to print and ebooks. I did start Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) and was a little surprised at how funny it was right from the start. Often funny novels take a while to kind of get into that humorous rhythm, but Gaiman and Pratchett hit the sweet spot right off the bat.

And I’ve also just started S.J. Bolton’s most recent Lacey Flint novel, A Dark and Twisted Tide. But despite both these novels being interesting reads, I’ve not been feeling in the mood for a whole lot of reading the past few days.

Listening: Listening, on the other hand—well, I’ve been listening up a storm!

Working Stiff

I am nearly at the end of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell. So interesting, and I’m really enjoying the narration, too.

I’m also about midway into a re-listen of Cat Among the Pigeons. My audio version is narrated by Hugh Fraser, who’s my favourite Agatha Christie narrator. Even though Poirot doesn’t come into the story until fairly late in the novel, this is one of my favourite Poirot mysteries. It’s got everything in it: spies, Middle Eastern royalty, a boarding school, an undercover police officer, and, of course, a nice mystery that Poirot solves as adroitly as usual. And I love the ending.

And finally, I’ve just started The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Amim, which has been on my TBR for ages now. Kind of timely, seeing as it’s April right now …

Writing: Nothing yet, but there’s the short story I’m supposed to be working on for this week. I posted the prompts I’m working with yesterday. I’m also thinking of starting up a Writing Journal on Scrivener to help me get back into a daily writing habit.

Working: I finished a bunch of articles over the weekend and I finally got my freelance writing and social media site up: Index & Ink Media. I had to get something up and running because I’ve got a couple of articles which will hopefully be publishing soon on a biggish site, and I wanted to be able to link to my work site in my bio rather than this blog, since the articles are business-oriented and have nothing to do with books or reading.

There’s nothing like that kind of a self-imposed deadline to motivate me (I’ve been meaning to get the site live for over a year now). It’s still very much a work in progress—I wrote the copy at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday night (Monday morning, I guess), so it’s not the greatest, but at least it’s live! I’m still working on the Twitter account for the site. So far I have one set up, but it’s still got an egghead as its avatar, no bio and three followers (I have no clue who they are). Be warned—I’m going to be hitting you all up to follow me on there once I have everything set up and am tweeting with it regularly. It will be mostly social media links so hopefully you’ll find it useful.

I’ve also got a human geography index due later this week, and I might also be getting a rush index, on communications.  Did you know there’s such a thing as a rush index? There is. Usually it means someone somewhere along the way has dropped the ball in some way and the schedule’s all out of whack as a result. But you didn’t hear that from me.

Creating: Nothing. And I missed Trish’s Inspiration Monday! Hopefully I’ll be able to make the next one, which I think will be up in two weeks.

Looking forward to: The itchiness going away …

The rest of today: Work and then Dylan’s hip hop class. I’m hoping to get a lot done before we have to leave for the dance class.

Snapshot: 01-13-2015

Time: 9:10 pm

Wearing: Black pants, black long-sleeved t-shirt and gray (!) long cardigan

Feeling: A little stressed. I have so many deadlines this month. I’m not even sure how it happened. Well, okay, it happened because I have a hard time turning down work. I had to say no to a good client today, and it was tough, but after I did it, I was glad I did. I don’t think I could have handled another deadline this month.

Photo of the week:

Dylan reading

I took this picture earlier today. We had picked up our holds from the library before heading out to dance class. This is Dylan standing in -11° C reading El Deafo by Cece Bell. We were waiting for the light to change at an intersection. Right before I took this picture, he’d said to me, “Man, this book is SO good.” His hands were quite cold by the time we got inside again!

Eating: Spinach and ricotta sausages with onions and rice.

Drinking: Nothing yet, but I’ll probably be getting a glass of my mango water kefir when I finish this post.

Reading:

land of laughs by jonathan carroll

I’m on page 99 of Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll and I’m really enjoying it. If you like books about books, you might want to look into this one. I’m not sure how I happened on it – I think it was on a list of books Neil Gaiman recommended and that’s why I put it on hold at the library. At any rate, it has a blurb by Gaiman on the back cover, where he says “The Land of Laughs is a book for anyone who has ever believed that a favorite book could be a safe place to go when things get hard.”

In the book, Thomas, a schoolteacher and the son of a big film star, and Saxony, an artist, get together to write a biography of Marshall France, a mysterious children’s book author they both adore. I am just about to get into the fantasy part, so I can’t tell you much more, but here’s what the final sentence of the synopsis says: “slowly they begin to see that something fantastic and horrible is happening. The magic of Marshall France has extended far beyond the printed page…leaving them with a terrifying task to undertake.”

I also picked up Saga, Volume 1 from the library today, and really hope I’ll be able to get to it before it has to go back.

Listening: I’m about a third of the way through Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek. It sure sounds like a great deal – who wouldn’t want to make more than enough money to live on while only working four hours a week, right? – but I don’t know how much practical use I’ll get out of the book. Right now I’m on the part about outsourcing your life, and there’s an excerpt from A.J. Jacobs’ My Life as An Experiment recounting his experiences when he decides to outsource his life. I’ve read the Jacobs book and thought the chapter on outsourcing was hilarious, but I’m not sure how applicable outsourcing would be to my own every day life.

Writing: I’ve been on track with my writing, and really hope all these deadlines won’t get me off track. So far this month I’ve written 23,092 words. I had one off day, on the 10th, when I wrote only 641 words, well under my daily target of 1,500 words.

Once I finish this draft (I’m converting a novella I wrote last summer into a full-length novel), I will have to figure out how to track my writing properly when I’m not writing a draft. I need to plan out the next WIP, and also do revisions on a bunch of things. That should all count as writing, so I need to figure out a way to track it as part of my daily writing goal. (I really don’t want to see zeros on my spreadsheet!)

Working: I’m working on a three volume (parts 1 and 2, plus a cumulative volume) economics textbook right now. It’s a well-organized textbook, which does make my job as an indexer a lot easier.

Creating: I’ve been doing a little something every day. I worked on a portrait earlier this week. It still needs a lot of work, so I put that aside last night to draw out a mandala that I’ll probably start colouring in tonight. I’ve discovered I really love Prismacolor pencil crayons. I’ve had a set around for a while but never got around to using them before now. They are nothing like the pencil crayons I used to use in school – the colours are thick and intense, and go down on the paper so smoothly. It’s almost  like colouring with paint.

You can see the latest thing I just did on my sidebar over there to the right. I’ve got it set to pull in the most recent post from My Year of Creativity tumblr blog.

Discoveries: I finally upgraded my iPhone to IOS 8, and have now discovered the delights of the IOS sharing button. It lets me share links to the apps I use quite frequently, like Flipboard, Buffer, Google+ and Twitter, and lets me quickly add things to Pocket and Evernote. Before this I was using bookmarklets on the Safari browser, and if I was in another app, like Feedly, I’d have to open the link in Safari, then use the appropriate bookmarklet. This is SO much easier and has been saving me a ton of time.

Looking forward to: February. I have a lot less deadlines waiting for me in February.

The rest of today:  Work, work and more work. I’ve got a whole night of work ahead of me still, unfortunately. And I’m feeling very sorry for myself …

Snapshot: 12-16-2014

Wearing: My pajamas and a hoodie, because it’s a bit cool in here.

Feeling: Pretty good. I still have some deadlines before Christmas, but they’re on the lighter side, so I feel like I have some breathing space.

Eating: Just had a bowl of savoury oatmeal, with salmon chunks in it. I prefer my oatmeal to be savoury rather than sweet – kind of like a Western version of congee!

Drinking: Homemade mango kefir and a cup of green tea.

Reading: I started Jackaby by William Ritter last week. It’s been good so far, although I haven’t read enough of it yet to be feeling that “can’t put this down” feeling. I have high hopes for it, though.

Listening: Still listening to 14 by Peter Clines. Just finished a really exciting scene last night – I think I was holding my breath through much of it.  I have about two and a half more hours of the book left.

I also downloaded the Eckhart Tolle bundle onto my iPhone, and have been listening to his talk on Manifestation. As always, the focus is on being and the practice of presence, and it’s always such a good reminder for me, especially around this time of the year. Lately, despite daily meditation (or attempts at it), my mind is usually going a mile a minute, and Eckhart always manages to slow me down to the speed of presence. I just wish I could get there easily when I’m not listening to him!

Writing: Other than blog posts and freelance articles, nothing. I may be able to get back into a regular fiction writing habit before Christmas, but this time of year can get crazy, I’ve decided to be okay if I don’t start until after the holidays.

I’m excited, though, because my writing buddy Memory is currently doing an alpha read (it’s more like pre-alpha, if that’s possible) of my children’s book WAVERLEY, both the new, finished version and my first, incomplete version. The feedback she’s given me so far has been really good, and I’m planning on revising WAVERLEY beginning in the new year.

Working: I have two freelance articles due tomorrow, and I’m also finishing up an index for a very interesting book. I like this, because I rarely index interesting books (most of my projects are university textbooks, with the occasional high school book thrown in). This one is on the cooperative business model and servant leadership, and I found the concepts rather breathtaking.

Creating: Another big zero here. I know this is something I need to make into a daily habit or it will never get done, so it’s probably not going to happen until after the holidays. Things I’m thinking about doing in the new year are more drawing and more sketchnoting. We shall see.

Photo of the week: I took this last night, of Dylan and Creeper:

Photo 2014-12-15, 7 29 30 PM

I’ve also been having a lot of fun this past week on Instagram with the #SeasonsReading challenge. I think I’ll be doing more Book-a-Day photo challenges in the new year – they really make me think more creatively about the pictures I’m taking.

Discovery: Now that I can comment on blogs from my phone, I’ve developed a new morning routine: blog reading! (I used to read the Toronto Star quickly followed by the New York Times (not as quickly), but I much prefer blog reading). So I’ve been coming across a ton of “Best of the Year” lists. They make me weep sometimes, though, as my TBR now feels even more out of control than ever.  Kristen’s list at We Be Reading has probably done the most amount of damage so far in this regard.

Looking forward to: The holidays! Doing the final bit of gift shopping! Actually having time to have fun wrapping this year (instead of doing it all in a crazed, two-hour, frantic blitz as I’ve done in previous years)! And some nice big blocks of time for reading (fingers crossed about this one).

The rest of today: Dylan and I are headed out to the library, where we each have a large stack of holds to pick up. Plus our library cards need to be renewed. And then work. But I kind of feel like I had the morning off, so it’s not too bad.