Tag Archives: writing

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: March 31, 2015

Time: 12:54 a.m.

Feeling: Tired. The book-reading demon had a stomach flu bug on Friday night. Dylan got it on Sunday. With the deadlines I’ve got this week, this is definitely NOT the time for me to come down with stomach flu. (Not that there’s ever any good time for it, but you know what I mean, right?)

Eating: The book-reading demon made the pork meatballs banh mi recipe from the Eat St. cookbook and they were really tasty. So today he tried it with ground chicken rather than ground pork. Unfortunately, the texture’s not quite there. Our next experiment? (Don’t you just love how I say “our next experiment” when really, he’s going to do the cooking, I just come up with the ideas?) A half ground pork-half-ground chicken combo.

Drinking: I had my wine, so now I’m having some milk kefir. Hoping the probiotics will keep the stomach flu bugs at bay.

Reading: I’d like to finish S.J. Bolton’s Like This, For Ever, just so I can add it to my “books read in March list” (I know, I know. But sometimes I need that carrot.)

likethisforever.jpg

I probably won’t be able to do very much reading the rest of this week. I’m thinking I might try to dip into a comic or two when I have a free moment.

Listening: I just finished listening to Veronica Mars: The Ten Thousand Dollar Tan Line today. It was good! So good, I want to listen to the next one, Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell, right now. Only I don’t have it, so I guess that won’t happen, not this week anyway. I’ve put a hold on it at the library, so hopefully it will come through soon.

Writing: Nothing. Sigh.

Working: Just finished up an indexing deadline. Possibly have another one index due later this week, only I don’t have all the chapters so it may be delayed. Finished one article for Monday, and have another one due this Friday.

Discoveries: It’s been a while since I used my standing desk set-up. I stood the entire day today while I was finishing up the index that’s due tomorrow and OMG, my legs are just killing me. I feel like I’ve been exercising non-stop. Which is probably a good sign, right? Surely it means all this standing is giving my leg muscles a workout?

Looking forward to: Not getting the stomach flu. Haha! (Hope I didn’t just jinx myself …)

Snapshot: March 24, 2015

Time: 12:06 a.m.

Feeling: Really embarrassed. In my last post I talked about hoping to get organized with the Passion Planner, as I was feeling really overwhelmed with things. Well, earlier today (yesterday, actually, since it’s just past midnight) I forgot I had scheduled a get-to-know-you meeting with someone I met through an introduction on LinkedIn. I was having dinner out with my two older kids when I got a message from her asking if I wanted to reschedule, as she didn’t see me anywhere at our scheduled meeting place. I felt so bad—I am usually so good with appointments.

I’m not normally a scattered person but I’ve been feeling really disorganized lately, and this is the kind of thing that happens when I do feel scattered. Hopefully the new planner will get me organized. And luckily she wasn’t upset and we’ve rescheduled for this Friday.

Eating: The kids and I had abalone, sliced pork and preserved egg congee, fried dough fritters (to go with the congee), rice noodle rolls with shrimp and the BBQ meat plate with duck, pork and chicken.

Drinking: A glass of Malbec.

Reading: I’m about halfway through Spring Tide, by Cilla and Rolf Börjlind. It’s an interesting read, although I keep thinking something’s getting lost in the translation from Swedish. It’s an interesting read, though, and I’m pretty sure there will be lots of twists to come.

Spring Tide

I’m also about two-thirds through Pet Sematary, and it’s getting intense. I hope to finish it by the end of this week. Quite a few people have finished it for the #gangstercats readalong, so I’m playing a bit of catch-up.

Lumberjanes

Saturday afternoon was a bit of a comics afternoon for me. I am really loving Lumberjanes. It’s such a smart, fun comic. While I was reading issue 6, my son read over my shoulder, and now he wants to read the earlier issues!

Listening: I’m still listening to Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. I haven’t had much time for audiobooks lately (so yes, the place isn’t anywhere near clean!) but I’ve been enjoying listening to fifteen minutes or so every night before I go to bed.

Writing: I haven’t done any fiction writing the past few days, but I’m hoping this will change as I’m now actually scheduling things in the Passion Planner. I did finish a blog post for comics month at Book Bloggers International on Sunday which was really fun to write.

Working: I’ve had a nice break but now things are heating up again. I’ve got several articles due this week and next, plus a couple of indexes as well. I’m hoping the switch to the new planner will help me feel less overwhelmed and maybe even finish up some deadlines early.

Twitter chat: Had a really nice time at yesterday’s Bloggiesta Twitter chat, where we talked about “people”—the themes for the Twitter chats match the name of Bloggiesta’s mascot, PEDRO: People, E-presence, Display, Reviews and Organize. I won’t be able to make tomorrow’s chat as I’ll be heading back from Dylan’s hip hop class at the time, but I’m hoping to make at least one more chat this week. There’s a lovely recap of today’s chat here. 

Looking forward to: A week that’s scheduled! I’m really hoping the Passion Planner works for me. I’ve never actually scheduled my time before, but I’m liking how each day looks when it’s planned out.

Snapshot: March 10, 2015

Time: 4:29 pm

Feeling:  A lot more energized than yesterday! And it’s making me really appreciate how important feeling energized is. Yesterday was so bleh, but today I feel like I can (maybe) juggle everything I’ve been loading on my plate.

Reading: I just finished S.J. Bolton’s Now You See Me last night, so I’ll probably start on book 2 of the Lacey Flint series, Dead Scared. And I’m still working on Pet Sematary for the #gangstercats readalong.

The Shadow Cabinet

I also picked up Maureen Johnson’s The Shadow Cabinet from the library, and since it’s a relatively new release, I should get to it sooner rather than later because I’m probably not going to be able to renew it. I loved the first book in The Shades of London series, The Name of the Star but the second book (The Madness Underneath)? Not so much.

Still Writing

And in non-fiction, I’d like to start The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin. Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life, by Dani Shapiro, also came in from the library. This is the second time I’ve borrowed it – the last time I didn’t get to it fast enough and there were holds on it so I couldn’t renew it. It’s a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a while, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to make the time for it.

Listening: I’m still listening to In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Leslie Klinger and Laurie R. King. It’s not quite as enjoyable as Klinger and King’s first collection of Holmes stories, A Study in Sherlock, but I’m enjoying it.

Writing: I haven’t done much writing this past week, but I have a lot of revisions and editing in the works. I’m still in the process of revising Waverley, my middle grade children’s fantasy, and I need to edit a short story and a flash story this week so I can submit them.

Working: No indexes this week! I do have ten blog posts to write for a business client. The rest of my time has been spent on preparing to take the plunge into freelance writing – not writing for corporate/business clients, which is what most of my writing work has been (except for one client, where I write articles under my own byline) – but bylined writing for websites and print publications. I’ve been compiling a collection of places and editors to pitch my pieces, but I need to work out a better system. I also need to make time each day to brainstorm ideas for different pieces.

It’s very different from anything I’ve done before. I have a tendency to go into heavy-duty research and learning mode whenever I start doing something different, so the key is to know when I’ve got enough facts under my belt, and start the doing steps. Which means sending out those article pitches and writing those personal essays!

I also have an interview tomorrow with a publisher, again in a field of work that’s new to me. So these are very exciting times indeed!

Blogging: This year I’ve been getting more involved in blogging events, and it’s been fun so far. I haven’t skipped a day yet (except for Christmas day, which was planned), so I’ve managed to stay on course in terms of my 365 days of blogging self-challenge.

Later this month I’ll be hosting a mini-challenge for Bloggiesta – they’re still looking for more mini-challenge hosts, if you’re interested. I’m also working on a post for next month’s theme at  Book Bloggers International.

And next month is Dewey’s Read-a-Thon! I’ve only ever participated as a cheerleader, because in the past my Saturdays were booked with getting Dylan to a variety of different classes. This year, though, he’s in one building in the afternoons, and my wait time on Saturday afternoons has become my reading time. So I’m hopeful I’ll be able to participate both as a cheerleader and as a readathon participant.

Creating: A couple of weeks ago, Joy Weese Moll and I talked each other into taking the Verbal to Visual Classroom course, which started yesterday. It’s basically a sketchnoting course, offered by Doug Neill of the Verbal to Visual site, and I’m hoping it will get me taking more visual notes as I read.

Looking forward to: Getting back to Pet Sematary tonight. I know I said I wouldn’t read it at night, but I intend to go to bed early so everyone should still be up while I’m reading. Hopefully!

The rest of today: I’m heading out with Dylan for a dance class. And then I have the evening for reading!

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.

That Whole “Time Flies” Thing, Writing Mojo, and Stephen King

So now that I’m doing the big city living thing, I’ve been discovering something interesting: time flies when you’re doing nothing more than going through your day.

That sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? I mean, time flew for me back in the suburbs, too. But it’s a very different feeling in my new “city life”.

Back at our old place, time flew, yes – time always flies, except, of course, when you most want it to – but it flew very predictably. Every day saw the same old, same old and so time flew over very familiar terrain.

And before you start thinking, wow, Belle, you must be so busy running about now, doing stuff, LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST … Um, no, I’m not.

It’s that whole “potential” thing.

Photo 2012-04-06 10 07 09 PMMoon shining on Lake Ontario

(Disclaimer: This picture has absolutely NOTHING to do with anything in this post. I took it sometime last week or the week before that. The moon shining down on the lake was just so pretty. Unfortunately, my iPhone camera simply didn’t do it justice. But I’m sharing it with you all anyway!

Now back to my post …)

To be honest, I haven’t yet fully clicked into full-on city living. Not yet. And at the pace I’m going, by the time I’ve truly thrown myself into doing and living all the amazing events and experiences Toronto has to offer – BAM! – I’m going to be knee deep in deadlines again.

(Well, there you go. That’s motivation enough to start living more fully, isn’t it?)

But you see,  every day here there’s the potential of doing something different, something new. And up until our move, I’ve had such an isolated, hermit-like existence, even this potential is like a breath of fresh air.

And I’m realizing, I really must get a grip on things. Savour the potential, sure. But I really don’t want to let that put me off-track. Potential is fun. It’s enticing. But there’s more to life than just savouring the potential while time flies right by you.

(OMG, Belle, is this your long-winded, very strange way of explaining your recent blogging absences?

Why yes. Yes it is. Is it that obvious?

Yes.)

In other, more exciting (to me) news: I have my writing mojo back!

Yes, that bit of news deserves bolding …

And all it took was recognizing that my habits have changed. Where I once was that bright and sparkly night owl, ready to tackle huge manuscripts late into the night, I’m now that sleepy, tired is-it-time-for-bed-yet owl who wakes up (those who know me well won’t believe this, but it’s true) at the ungodly hour of 8:00 a.m. Yes, you read that right. Ever since our move, I’ve been waking up around 8:00 – without even trying!

This has had a major effect on my nightly activities. So in recognition of this, I changed things around. My writing time is now in the mornings (or close to it).

I have somehow managed to become a morning person. Well, okay, maybe “morning person” is a bit of an exaggeration.

How about mid-morning person? And some days, an early afternoon person.

Because it does take me that long (after my mandatory two cups of coffee) to get going some days.

And in the reading department … I finished Stephen King’s 11/22/63 the other day. I will probably post a review, but here’s my super-micro review:

1373830_twirl_2(Photo credit)