Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

Thursday Snapshot: Unpacking, Little by Little

It’s been a week and a day since the big move, and I haven’t made much of a dent in terms of the unpacking. But I hit on a plan today that seems to be working. You see, right now I’m drowning in work deadlines, which is why I have no time for unpacking. But I also hurt my neck a while ago—not that my neck actually hurts, it’s my upper arm that’s sore but my physiotherapist tells me it’s definitely sore because of my neck. So the thing is, I have to take breaks while I’m working.

I am terrible about taking breaks. I tend to get all focused on a deadline and suddenly I look up and geez, will you look at that—eight hours have passed by! Yes, it can get that bad. But the thing with an arm that hurts is this: it simply won’t let you sit at the keyboard and plough through the day and night like that.

So I’ve been taking breaks. And during my breaks, I’ve been slowly, oh so slowly, getting my books onto my book shelves. And it’s working! I’m getting unpacked and my arm is feeling much much better.

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Time: 5:08 pm

Feeling: Tired, but in a good way.

Eating: You really don’t want to know. Let’s just say I’ve been surviving mainly on frozen foods from the grocery store, okay?

Drinking: Truckloads of coffee. But since I only let myself have one caffeinated coffee a day, it’s truckloads of decaf coffee, so I’m not anywhere near as wired as that first sentence suggests.

Reading: Yes, I’m reading! Even with the deadlines and the unpacking, I’ve been managing to find little, tiny pockets of time. Why? Because this is the book I picked up from the library earlier this week:

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I’m really enjoying it so far; this is the first one in the Cormoran Strike series I’ve read rather than listened to, and it’s definitely a good read.

Listening: Since I’m using those little, tiny pockets of time to read Career of Evil, I haven’t had any leftover time to listen to an audiobook. But it’s a good trade-off. I’m just happy to be reading again.

Writing: I tried. I really did. I wrote about 2,500 words on November 1. But then I didn’t write at all on November 2. And on November 3, I said to myself, you know what? I’m going to use this year’s Nanowrimo to help me get back into writing daily. So I’ll write a little bit each day and consider it a win.

I wrote 500 words that day. But nothing yesterday. And probably nothing today.

It’s not just about the time. I could probably carve out the additional hour or so I’d need to meet the daily Nanowrimo word count. But my tiredness has affected my creativity; my mind feels exhausted, and even when I sit down to write, nothing really comes to me.

I probably need to replenish the artistic well or something. When I have time.

But I’m cutting myself some slack here. After all, I just moved. I have unpacked oh, maybe 5% of my stuff. Not to mention the other stuff that’s communal and still waiting to be unpacked. And I am in the middle of my busy season when it comes to work. So I’m okay with this. Maybe next year …

Working: I also made the decision to quit Booktrope, where I’ve been a book manager for about six months now. It was a tough decision to make—I really enjoyed working with both of my authors—but it was a necessary decision. I just don’t have the time (did I mention unpacking, busy with work, trying to write?) and with both my authors having book launches coming up, it was much better to step down and let someone else take over who could commit the time and energy necessary for making those launches a big success.

Creating: Nope. Not a thing.

Looking forward to: Going to bed tonight. Seriously. I’m tired enough I could sleep right now, but I have to take Dylan to dance class. But when I get back? The bed and Career of Evil beckons! And a glass of wine, of course.

A Harry Potter Christmas!

Happy holidays, everyone! I’m still in the middle of festive celebrations, as we have some family “dos” scheduled this week. And then, of course, there’s New Year’s, although Ward and I have been so busy, we haven’t actually figured out what we’re going to be doing on New Year’s Eve.

My Christmas Day was all about Harry Potter, because this is what I found under the tree:

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I’d had this book on my wishlist since I first heard about it (I think it was on Twitter), but it was one of those “yeah, maybe one of these days” kind of things – after all the decluttering book-wise we’ve done this year, I felt strange about forking over such big bucks for a big coffee table type of book. But Ward decided to pick it up for me for Christmas, and am I ever glad he did!

I spent most of Christmas Day curled up on the couch devouring Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey. It’s one of those books where, when you come up for air, you say to yourself, “And a wonderful time was had by all.” (Well, at least, that’s what I usually say to myself when I find myself immersed in a really good read.)

The parts I like best? The occasional mentions of J.K. Rowling’s contributions to the filming process, like this bit about the Black family tree:

“Within the house is a tapestry that reveals the entire history of the Black family. The tapestry is mentioned only briefly in the book but needed to be fully constructed for the film. So David Heyman called Jo Rowling to get details about the Black family tree. Within fifteen minutes, she faxed him a complete family tree for the house of Black, with over seventy-five names going back over five generations, all complete with dates of births and deaths, marriage details, and even the family crest and motto.”

It really dawned on me after reading this, how Rowling did more than simply write the Harry Potter books. She also created extremely detailed material about all aspects of Harry Potter’s world, and even though these details might show up in the series in brief mentions, or perhaps not at all, they clearly infuse the books with a realism that plays no small role in their appeal.

Know what I would love to see? A volume devoted to all of this supplementary material. Wouldn’t that be just a lovely peak inside the creative process of this very extraordinary writer?

Ward also got me the final movie in the Harry Potter series; when it came out this year, I went to the theatres to see it twice. I think it’s one of my favourites in the entire series. I haven’t had a chance to watch it again yet, as Christmas Day was given over to the reading of Harry Potter Page to Screen, and then right after Christmas, I had to dig deep into my deadlines again, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

How were your holidays? What bookish delights did you find under your tree?

Completed: The Harry Potter Challenge!

NaNoWriMo progress report (day 4): 9,115 words to date. I’ve already had one writing session today, but I’d like to do another one, as I’d like to make it to 10,000 words by the end of today.

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Now for some wonderful news. I have completed my very first reading challenge EVER!

Yes, that’s right. I’ve completed the Harry Potter Reading Challenge!

It will actually be one of my last reading challenges completed, because I’ve sworn off signing up for more reading challenges, even very interesting ones like the Women Unbound challenge (I had to sit on my hands to avoid giving into the temptation of that one – but if you’re looking for a great reading challenge, you should definitely consider this one).

I did the entire Harry Potter challenge in audio, and even though this is a reread for me, I realized I must have read the last two books in the series in one or two gulps; listening to the last two books, I found I had forgotten (more likely, “skimmed over”) a LOT of the plot, and so it was almost like reading them for the first time.

In other words, very, very exciting. And I cried lots, too. I even get teary eyed now when I think about what Harry named his middle child (you find this out in the epilogue. I won’t mention it here, as it’s a spoiler).

And while it’s a kind of funny thing to express appreciation for, I wouldn’t have finished listening to the series in audio so soon if I hadn’t had those days in October, and most recently, the first day in November, when I wasn’t feeling well. Audiobooks are great when you’re under the weather, and these Harry Potter ones were especially enjoyable.

I’ve had Harry and his friends as my bedtime reading for the past three months now – I’m really going to miss listening to the books. I’d definitely reread them all in audio again!

Some Saturday Ramblings

It feels like a “lost” week around here in a way. Monday was a holiday here (not that it matters much to me work-wise since I work when I have a deadline and take time off when I don’t, but there’s the not-minor matter of not having to get up with the kids in the morning as they get ready for school!)

Add to that the head cold I had for three days, which unfortunately came back yesterday and really, it feels like all I’ve done this week is loll around in the grip of cold medication that makes me drowsy.

Reading …

I did manage to get through a nice chunk of The Likeness, by Tana French. I’ve mentioned before that, for some reason, this novel hasn’t hooked me the way In The Woods did. I finally felt really engrossed at around page 189. I’m now very near the end, but (and it might just be because I’ve been under the weather) I don’t find myself racing through to see what happens. In fact, the book has sat on the coffee table, open to the page where I last left it, for the past two days.

I did much better with the audio version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – I’m getting close to the end, and I just started listening earlier this week. (It generally takes me longer to listen to an audiobook because I only listen when I’m exercising, cleaning the kitchen and for an hour before bed.)

While I’ve reread the first three Harry Potter books a few times, I realized as I was listening to this one that this is my first reread of it. There were several things I’d forgotten, and one thing I was pleased to rediscover was that (tiny spoiler here, for those of you who haven’t read this one or seen the movie), unlike the movie, it wasn’t Cho who ratted everyone out. I hadn’t realized that the movie had parted ways with the book there (which goes to show how much of the book I’d forgotten by the time I saw the movie!).

Writing …

I’d meant to spend this week doing up character sketch thingies for my NaNoWriMo novel, but never lifted even a finger in that direction. I did, however, find a very handy set of free Excel worksheets right before I came down with that head cold. I’ll only be using the character worksheet, but for those of you who like to plot first, The Novel Planning Excel Workbook might come in handy (you can see all the worksheets in the novel here, but you need to go here to download it).

When I was writing NANTUCKET, I ended up taking a file folder and writing down all my secondary characters in it, because I found myself wasting a lot of time trying to remember names, especially the names of the more minor characters. I think using the character worksheet will really be helpful.

Fitness Challenge

I haven’t done that well this week with the challenge, logging in only two miles, on the day when I was feeling better. I was supposed to do another 1.5 miles yesterday, but kept postponing it, and then that head cold came back again. I really should get on the treadmill today, but I’m still feeling tired.

Ah … discipline. Nope. I don’t have it, not for fitness, anyway!

The Food Blog

Earlier this week, I posted about our Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend; I also mentioned that I was hoping my husband would start blogging at our food blog, Muse in the Kitchen, because I have been doing a terrible job of keeping it up-to-date.

The thing is, while I do love to eat, it’s Ward who’s really passionate about the cooking and the recipes. He’ll be so thrilled about discovering a new technique that creates a much better result, while I’ll be like, “okay, that’s wonderful, is it okay if we dig in now?”

So guess what? He wrote his first post at Muse in the Kitchen the same day I wrote about our Thanksgiving dinner! You can check it out here: 30-Minute Homemade Pasta.

Since that first post, he’s also written several more posts. And today he told me he’s having a great time blogging! My job with the food blog now is very much like my job in the kitchen. During prep time, I play the role of sous chef; at the blog, I do a bit of reformatting.

Life feels pretty near perfect right now …

Harry Potter in Audio: Books 1 and 2

hprclogoFor the Harry Potter Reading Challenge, I decided to re-read the Harry Potter series in audiobook format.

I’d just like to pat myself on the back now, and say, “Good decision, Belle”.

I’ve always had a sort of strange envy for people who decided to start reading the Harry Potter books after book seven was published. I think to myself how delightful it would be to have that opportunity to sit down, new to Harry’s wizarding world, and polish off the entire series from beginning to end, one lovely book after another.

And now, listening to the books in audio, I feel like I’m getting the chance to experience the books that way, too. (Well, almost, anyway.) Jim Dale, the narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks, is a superb narrator;he ably brings each story to vivid life, and I find myself caught up in the books almost as if I didn’t quite know what was about to happen.

I normally listen for an hour or so before bed, and it’s like my own personal bedtime story. Once again, I find myself drawn into Harry’s story, and there’s just such a good feeling when I come to the end of one book, and know that the next book is there for me, waiting for me to start it.

When it comes to audiobooks, I have a tendency to favor books I’ve already read before. That way, there are no surprises. I know beforehand that yes, I do like the book (and no, there aren’t any scenes that are too intense for me to handle in print, much less in audio, where you can’t flip through the next page or two, eyes closed).

So the books in the Harry Potter series are perfect for an audiobook re-read. Although they’re pricy (and I noticed that Audible isn’t currently carrying them, either), I discovered that my library has a few copies of each volume.

Audiobook bliss. That’s about all I can say.

And the Harry Potter challenge is definitely one that I will be completing (I’m afraid I’m going to have a generally woeful post coming up soon about the state of my reading challenges). So far, I’ve listened to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (that’s the UK title) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (finished that last night, smiling all the while at Dobby’s reward). I also started Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban last night.

One thing, though: I do find that the images in my mind resemble to a great degree the images I remember from the movies. If you’ve re-read the Harry Potter books, do you find this happening too?

Harry Potter Reading Challenge

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I couldn’t resist! And yes, I know I’ve been very derelict in keeping my other reading challenge posts updated. But come on! It’s a Harry Potter reading challenge!

I just couldn’t say no. So I’m signing on for this one.

I’ve read all the Harry Potter books (I can remember waiting by the mailbox, eagerly awaiting the delivery of the newest, just-released book – whichever it was depended on the year in memory – and ripping the package open, having already made the entire family promise to leave me alone for the entire day so I could read from beginning to end in absolute bliss.)

I’ve also re-read several of them once or twice now, and I’ve been wanting to sit down and do a re-read from beginning to end.

So, for this challenge, I’m thinking about listening to each of them in audio. Jim Dale, who narrates the books, is a wonderful narrator, and I think this will be a great way to complete this challenge.

The challenge in full is this: Read or listen to all seven books in the Harry Potter series, anytime beginning August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010.

What are you waiting for? Sign up at GalleySmith’s and come join me in the fun!