Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oh What A Lazy Week It's Been...

Let me start off by saying that I've not made much progress this week.  This past weekend was crammed with various activities which left little time to do anything but come home and sleep, rather soundly too! Add to that the crazy humid weather we had (and since it's May I hadn't taken out the air conditioners yet. I really need to get on that!), and I was basically about as productive as a slug.  That being said, I'm acutally okay with my lack of progress.  I had been making good progress since school ended in the beginning of May with getting my writing, reading and even being active so I think I just needed a small break to relax and enjoy myself.  So, here is my progress:

Writing:  I wrote on Sunday and haven't typed a word since then.  I plan to get back into wrting on Thursday, but clearly won't make my goal for the week.

Reading:  Another book down, so goal complete for the week. I read the first 50 Shades last week, the second on Sunday/Monday and I am starting the third today.  I reviewed the first book on Goodreads and honestly didn't find it that bad and certainly not as shocking as everyone was saying.  You can read my review of it (it's short) here. .  I also got a bunch of gift cards for my birthday yesterday and the downloading of books has begun on my Nook! I will be in my reading cave for the next few nights I think! :)  (And oh by the way, if you are on Goodreads feel free to friend me! I love to see what others are reading and recommending! It's one way my TBR list has gotten so long!)  

Blogging:  This is a fail so far but like I said, I just kinda took a break the last few days. I have a bunch ready to go starting in June that are music related. I really am such a dork when it comes to music but I love sharing my ecclectic tastes with others! 

Working Out: 3 out of 5. For one of those days, Monday, I spent the afternoon goofing off in the pool for hours with my nephew who has a never ending amount of energy.  He tired me out playing tag, and marco polo, and hitting the beach ball back and forth.  Yesterday every muscle in my body was screaming at me. This morning those same muscles were curled up in the fetal position begging me not to move. I forced myself to do a little yoga though, which has helped a little, as did the advil. Hopefully I can get the other two days in by the end of this week.

Well, that's it for me--a relatively short update, least for me anyways, but I'm so tired right now. I just need to sit with a cup of tea and my Nook and relax a bit more! I hope everyone's week is going well and happy writing!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane And A Row80 Update

This week has been so busy with attending softball and little league games for my niece and nephew that by Friday I was exhausted. But the one activity of my niece's that had stuck with me throughout the week was her chorus concert Monday.  She is in the 7th grade and auditioned at the beginning of the year for chorale, which is a select few of the chorus members from 6-9th grade.  Each group sang a set of songs and then her group, along with the 9-12th grade groups, combined for the final song.  As the first few notes played I couldn't help but grin.  I hadnt't heard this song in literally years but that didn't stop me from tapping my foot and humming along (okay, and singing quietly..but I couldn't help it! I still remembered all the words!). When it originally came out I was about 5 (or therebouts) and I can remember singing it in my mom's car: an old beige colored Nova that had a rusted out floor in the front passenger seat. Funny how certain songs bring back memories! (It also made me think of the Scrubs episode where JD is in the bath with the mango cocoa butter.)  Incidentally I can't get this song out of my head and  I've found myself singing it all week!  So if you're looking for some infectious early 80s music, here is your fix. (I linked the music video, and part of the Scrubs episode from vevo-cause well that show just rocks!):

Africa by Toto:


And now back to our regularly scheduled program....My ROW80 progress:

Writing:  Knocked out of the park!  This week I worked on writing the scenes I added in the beginning to flesh out the characters and story a bit more.  This week the plan is to keep writing every day and updating my character list.

Reading:  Two books down for the week!  I am still going to keep my goal of one book a week, but...since I have fallen way behind on my goodreads challenge I actually need to read 2-3 books a week to make it by December.  Good thing I have a long TBR list and a lot of books on my Nook! (And my birthday is Tuesday so yay for more Barnes and Noble gift cards!)

Blogging:  I posted Monday (about when our characters have minds of their own) and Tuesday (about one of my favorite bands, Breaking Benjamin).  I didn't hit a post every day, but I am happy with what I accomplished.  

Being Active:  4 out of 5 for the week.  Not perfect, but still I like where things are heading.

Of all the progress the writing is what I am most excited about.  I am on target to finish this WiP by July 1st which is both terrifying and exciting. I just need to keep writing!  I hope everyone has a great weekend and good luck this week on the ROW80 goals! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A New Place to Write

I have found a writing sanctuary which I can't get enough of lately. Heck, it's even becoming a place where I get a lot of my work done.  I live in a pretty old home, one that has been in my family since it was built about 100 years ago (maybe a bit older...I can never remember the exact year).  My grandfather's aunt lived here and raised him and his brothers here (along with her three children) when my great grandmother died.  Anyways I moved in a few years ago and have been slowly updating things, while also keeping much of it the same (it has the same moldings, inside doors and floors, even some amazing column things that separate the dining and living rooms...) It's been a lot of work, but worth it in so many ways.  

Anyways, back to my point.  One of the rooms I hadn't really gotten to doing much with was the fully enclosed front porch.  A door from the living room leads onto it and it has semi-new windows all around it, with a door at the center which leads to the front yard.  It needed (and needs) work though, and recently I decided to start in on it.  The ceiling needed fixing (which is done) and it needed painting (something I am still working on) and I need to get some new carpeting or something out here.  But the past few days I have focused on the clutter: going through it, organizing, cleaning, scrubbing and vacuuming.  There was a table and chair out there that was rarely used and after clearing it and scrubbing it clean, I now have a workable space where I can write, listen to music, get some work done, or just stare out the window (or a combination thereof!).  Either way, I am really starting to enjoy it and have gotten quite a bit of writing done out there.

Once it's painted and 'ready' for public showing, I will post some pictures, but until then all I have for you is my ROW80 mid-week check in.  Here's my progress:  

Writing:  On track for the week so far.  I've had the afternoons off lately which has been a huge help in getting my writing done.  Sunday I only got a minimal amount in; Monday it was just about 3500 words for the whole day; and Tuesday 993 . 

Reading:   My goal had been one book in 2 weeks-I read two books in three days last week.  So I changed this goal to: reading one book per week.  Well guess what?  I completed that goal last night when I finished Insurgent.  It was...OMG SO FREAKIN GOOD!  How I am going to wait until Fall of 2013 for book 3 I have no idea.  That's a long time to go without Four. *sighs* 

Blogging:  All good on this front. I blogged Monday (When A Character Goes In A Different Direction) and Tuesday (The Awesomeness of Breaking Benjamin).  I probably won't get another post out this week, but I'm happy with two. I am finding it easier to find things to write about and that was one of my goals with the Blog Me Maybe challenge. I wanted to make blogging a habit, and it is certainly becoming that.  

Being Active:  2 out of 5 so far and still have the rest of the week to go.  I have decided to keep up with my increased outdoor activity, and also to try and tame my general fear of nature (mainly bugs, and bees. I hate bees and they seem to not like me so much either).  This week I will be trying to start a small garden of herbs and some easy to care for veggies to go along with the blueberry bushes I started last year, and the ridiculous amount of blackberry bushes that grow on the property. If anyone knows any hints, tips, tricks, blogs, books, etc that could be helpful for my new gardening venture let me know in the comments below!

How about everyone else?  Are you accomplishing what you've set out to do this round?  Good luck this week! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Awesomeness That Is Breaking Benjamin

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Let me preface this post by saying that yesterday I got a lot of writing in.  Well a lot for me in one day anyways.  The grand total came to around 3500 words, which is, well a lot.  But I was on a roll with a scene and I just had to keep going.  And when I get that urge to keep writing (and have the time) I do it.  

So what does yesterday's writing have to do with today's Blog Me Maybe post you ask? Well that's simple.  The prompt for today is May I tell you something about me?" And so today I want to reiterate what I've said before about needing music to write and reveal my most recent inspiration.

Yesterday I was writing a scene in which the main character (I will just refer to her as MC for now) has this somewhat traumatic experience and in comes this guy, who up until this point has been a major pain in her ass.  He, like most of the characters, has a secret (actually a few), and isn't exactly the sharing type. But neither is my MC and she is stubborn as it makes for some difficult communication between the two. But while I've been able to get inside the head of my MC, he has been a bit harder to crack.  Until I heard a song (actually a few) that fit who he is and that was just the push I needed to fill in some much needed gaps where he was concerned. By the time I finished writing, I was both surprised and excited at the progress I'd made.

So who is the artist that that came over the speakers at just the right time?  The modern rock group Breaking Benjamin.  The lead singer is also the songwriter and I am anxious for new material, but I can live off the old for now. (The band has taken a hiatus because of a recurring illness he suffers from and a lawsuit or something among some former members; or so the interwebs tell me!)  Below are two of the videos that helped me flesh out just who the guy in my WiP is and just why he has so many secrets.  And seriously if I could have given Benjamin Burnley a hug for it I would have.  His songs pulled  me out of a serious block with this specific character at just the right moment. 

Breathe (Live):

I Will Not Bow:

So now that you know what has inspired me recently (in terms of music), is there any song or artist who has done the same for you?  What about the characters/books you've written--is there a 'soundtrack' to your writing?  Hope you enjoyed the music and happy writing!

Monday, May 21, 2012

When A Character Goes In A Different Direction

Recently I've come to the conclusion that convincing a character to do what I, the writer, want him or her to do sometimes just doesn't work well.          

As my WiP began I had a plan, or at least I knew how it was going to end.  But soon after getting into the meat of the story I noticed that the story was veering off in a direction I hadn't anticipated and was far off course of its intended ending.  While my gut tells me that this is the right direction to go in, (even though it throws my initial outline out the window) I'm still...what's the word...anxious?  This is a story I have been working on for awhile and I had always thought I knew just what the ending would be. But after looking at it again and really focusing on writing and developing my main character (I had put this WiP aside for awhile and for this round of ROW80 have now come back to it) I see a different ending and in many ways, even a different main character-or at least a different personality.  The choices I thought she would make changed as I've built and developed the setting and the other characters around her.  Needless to say, it's been an interesting ride though now when I look at my new and improved outline, I am definitely liking what I am seeing.

Of course I always have the option of going back and revising who my character has become, but I have to admit that I am not sure that the original ending fits into the type of person she is now.  It's almost as if somewhere a long the way, a tug of war has occurred between the characterization and the plot.  While I started out with the basics of both, at some point the character has developed to a point where the plot has to change to fit who she has become.  Each scene, each conversation, has brought her closer and closer to this point and to go back and  rip apart the tapestry I've woven to fit into the original ending just doesn't feel 'right' at this point.  

What about you? Is there ever a time that you've struggled with the direction you intended to go in a WiP and where the writing is actually taking you?  Do you stick to your original plan or go where the story takes you?  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Weekend in the Sun

The weather where I am has been just beautiful: sunny and hot during the day with comfortable temps at night for sleeping. Usually when it gets hot I hole up inside my house because that means the dreaded humidity is here, but we've been lucky the past few days.  Because of the nice weather I've been hanging out with my family (we've had one cook out so far, with another scheduled for today!), going to softball and little league games for my niece and nephew, and just having an all around good time.  All this has been happening while  helping my mom and sister with their massive garage sale so although I haven't gotten much writing in, I still consider the week a good one.  Here's my update:

Writing:  4 out of 7. Not where I want to be, but it's a start.  This week I will once again try to hit it every day with hopefully a bit more success.  Word count was just under 4K so that, in my mind, is still progress.

Reading: The goal was to read a book in two weeks. I've read two in one week, and hope to finish the third today.  Divergent by Veronica Roth (as suggested by Lauren) was so, so, so SO good.  I started it Friday night at about 9pm and stayed up until 3am on Saturday morning to finish it.  It was that good people! I bought book 2, Insurgent, for the Nook yesterday.  I was going to wait until my birthday in 9 days but, I cracked. I just HAVE to see what happens! 

Blogging:  I wrote one blog post this week which is one of my favorites mainly because it is about Felicia Day and The Guild.  I love the web series The Guild and their new music video just cracks me up. I also squealed like the total geek I am when my blog was mentioned in the #webseries daily on Thursday.  (I know, I really am I total geek. I told you!)  I have a writing related post for Monday in which I ask about characters and what happens when they lead the story in an unexpected direction so hopefully I can schedule that later and Blogger will behave.  I will try to work on a few more for this week to get myself ahead.

Being Active:  6 out of 5! YAY!!! And let me just say, hauling boxes, unpacking, repacking, running up and down the stairs, chasing the dog when he got loose, and all other garage sale related activities are exhausting.  I've been so tired the last few days that every muscle in my body has been screaming at me.  I am so counting all this physical activity as part of 'being active'!

All in all it's been a mixed bag in terms of results, but even though I didn't quite hit all my targets, I am still happy with the progress.  As I said last Sunday, my goals are about forming new habits and I know that it won't happen overnight.  Hope everyone is having a great weekend and good luck with your goals!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

To All the Geeks I've Loved Before

I am a gaming geek, and if I am not writing, and it's a weekend, it's usually cause I am slaying the horde in World of Warcraft. Or creating stories in Sims 3.  Or hanging around my amazing friends on Second Life who can write and create better than any other people I know (seriously, talk about creating whole worlds and characters and stories to go along with it?! It's a sandbox of possibilities, once you weed through the noobs and crazies).   So in honor of all the gaming geeks (and I say that with nothing but love) out there, I want to talk about the awesome-ness of The Guild and their latest video.

Their web series can be seen at their website, via youtube or the seasons can also be Netflix-ed (I don't think that is a word, but well, I made it one for my purposes!) The creator, Felicia Day, is amazing and has been seen in a bunch of TV shows (House, Lie To Me, and a ton more!), but especially those where Joss Whedon is concerned, including Buffy, Dr. Horrible's Sing A-Long Blog and Dollhouse!) You can check out her full list of credits here.  A blurb from The Guild website describes the show as follows:  
"The Guild is a independent sitcom web series about a group of online gamers. The show started in the late summer of 2007, and for the first season was financed solely by Paypal donations from LOYAL FANS. Since season 2, The Guild has been distributed by Xbox Live and Microsoft and sponsored by Sprint" (from  
It has won a whole lot of awards and has developed quite the cult following, me included. Each episode is between 3 and 8 minutes long and cracks me up every time. 

But I am not going talk too much about their show, instead, it is their latest music video that has me going all fan-girl fanatic.  Their latest music video is called "I'm The One That's Cool".  It totally brought me back to my high school days, and even reminded me of how so often the nerds, gamers, bookworms, shy and awkward kids are often picked on in middle school and high school.  (And having a niece who is going through this at the moment because of her bookworm nature, it has brought the memories all crashing back -.- )  So many kids, past and present, have been picked on for liking things that other people found different,  like video games, reading, writing, anything unrelated to sports (well the so called cool sports anyways), or anything else that was considered 'uncool', which just seems to silly to me.  I mean who decides what's cool and what's not?!  Can't we all just be nice and embrace each other's uniqueness?! Who decides!?! *shakes fist in frustration*    

So I am dedicating this song, by The Guild, to all those kids of today and yester-year who are (or have been in the past) considered geeks, gamers, nerds, weirdos and otherwise 'uncool' by the so called popular kids.  This should be anthem for every person who ever got picked on.  And did I mention that this was even directed by Joss Whedon?! Yes, that Joss Whedon! *swoons*  He co-wrote it with Felicia Day (who was just on Supernatural and Eureka too!).  

I have moments where I'd love to sing this at the top of my lungs to the 'cool kids' I went to high school with who still think they are better than everyone (the joys of living in a small town and still seeing these people regularly).  But so far I've refrained. Talk about will power.  Any other Guild fans out there? What about fellow members of the Whedonverse? Let me know what ya think!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Some Mornings I Need To Be Dragged Out of Bed

Or it feels this way anyways.  I just did not want to get out of bed today.  Not that I ever have a morning where I am quick to rise (I am so not a morning person) but for whatever reason today was harder than usual.  However, after staring at the ceiling for a good half hour, I finally forced myself to move and here I am, sucking down the first in what will likely be several large cups of tea.

But, enough about my morning crankiness (or as my nephew calls it "...acting like a crabby patty."  Gotta love Spongebob...)  Since it's Wednesday that means check-in day and having revamped my goals at Sunday's check-in, this is where I am so far:

Writing Every Day: Done! Even though Sunday was only a couple hundred words, it was still writing. Monday I got about 1712 in during the afternoon word sprint and Tuesday I wrote 1319.  Sadly I won't be in the office for today's sprint so I will be getting my daily writing in tonight.

Reading:  My goal was to read one book every two weeks. I read an entire book on Monday night. :)  I will be starting another tonight and then hopefully this weekend I can read The Hunger Games and/or Divergent.  So many books, so little time!

Blogging/Social Media: Okay, well this is...mixed. I had a post scheduled for yesterday, but blogger (being the pain that it is) didn't post it.  So it's still sitting in my drafts. I will reserve that for next Monday.  And Tuesday I just...didn't post anything. I have a post lined up for Thursday though and possibly one for Friday.

Be Active 5 Days a Week:  Sunday I did a short 15 minute yoga routine.  But Monday it was 30 minutes and Tuesday another 30.  I'm sleeping better already and my back (which had been killing me the last two weeks) is finally feeling close to normal. Mornings are still rough--it sucks to feel like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz as I try to get out of bed--but it's improving and that is all that matters!

All in all I'd say it's been a really productive week so far.  I hope everyone's week is going well and happy writing to you all!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Today Is A New Week And It's Time to Write, Write, Write!

If you read my Wednesday post you'd know that school is over and so one of my main goals (research/writing papers) for this Round is crossed off the list!  Since I turned in that last final I have taken some time to just relax, finish grading for the classes I teach and enjoy some TV I've missed this semester. Since I was just lounging about, I didn't get much done in terms of my other goals.  I took a break from the WiP, and the only thing I really did writing wise was to start reading James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure.  As for working out, I only got in one short yoga workout, but I'm okay with that since this week, it is back to business on all fronts!

With one goal completed, I've decided to revamp my ROW80 goals for the remainder of the Round.  I've kept them pretty general still, since that seemed to work for the earlier part of the round.  All of these goals are focused around the idea of making these activities a habit; something I just DO. And it seems that if I have a goal where I can just check off whether I did it or not (and not get mired down in the details) on a particular day, I end up being more successful.  So here are my new goals:

Writing:  Write every day. Even if it is just 50 words on my WiP, I will write every day.  I check my email on the computer at least once a day, so knocking out some words every day shouldn't be too hard.  I am trying to build good habits this round, and this is where I'm starting.   

Reading: Read a minimum of one book every two weeks. I think this should be pretty easy since I love to read and have a ton in my TBR pile and on my Nook, but before I up it to one book a week I want to have a test run to see how things go. 

Blogging/Social Media:  Keep up with the Blog Me Maybe challenge for the month of May and then re-evaluate in June.  I don't fret if I don't get post for BMM every day (it's why I love the challenge!).  My latest post for this blogfest was Friday's post about Rick Springfield-yes that Rick Springfield! :)  

Be Active:  I want to hit this 5 days of the week. This is going to be really hard, but I am determined to do it.  When I was in the thick of homework and work, I could barely get in my 3 workouts a week and was not sleeping well at all.  But now, like with writing, I want to make working out a habit and since being active often helps me sleep better, it's a win-win!

I am off to start in on these goals with some yoga, then some reading.  Wishing all the mothers out there a Happy and relaxing Mother's Day! I'll be heading to my sister's house in a few hours to let her and my mother sit back while my father, niece, nephew and I try to put together a cook out. Hopefully I don't blow up the grill!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Get Excited...

Just thinking about last Friday night. 

Last weekend I went to a concert and as usual I had a blast.  But this is a concert I normally don't admit to going to, because when I do I get some eye rolls and snorts along with disparaging comments about him and/or the 80s.  I let it all slide off my back but usually it's just not worth bringing up. But, I'm feeling nostalgic and figured what the heck, I'd throw caution to the wind and just tell the world...or well, those of you who read this blog.

First, a little background...This is a concert I go to every year in either April or May.  My best friend from law school buys the tickets for my birthday (which is 18 days away! Woot!)  and I reciprocate with tickets to a concert she likes (also a 80's band which is even more embarrassing than my choice!).  We are lucky because we live only about an hour away from each other and there is a casino exactly half way between us that has some great shows.  And like I said, every year, this particular musician comes to town and tickets are only about 45 bucks, which is worth it since every year we go and we have a BLAST.   And I've realized it's not so much about him or the music, as it is just a fun time to hang out with my best friend and get a bit nostalgic for our youth.  I think this year was the 5th year we've done this and it did not disappoint.  Like seriously, I have loved this guy since I first heard one of his biggest hits. Mind you, I was only about 5 years old at the time but I memorized every line and sang it constantly. I even snuck into my sister's room and stole her 45 (ya know the old records--the small ones) so I could listen to it over and over and over and over again. I still have that record somewhere...So who is this guy you ask?

Rick Springfield.  

Yup, I said it. I *heart* Rick Springfield.  This year he actually came over to us and was on top of our table!  Like he was standing right there, only mere inches away, and all I could was stare because for a guy his age, he is still frickin hot!  And can I just say, I am clearly not the only one out there who still loves this guy.  Cause as usual the place was nearly sold out and people, namely women were going crazy.  I was not however going crazy. I remained calm.  For the most part.

So instead of showing you something funny for this week's Blog Me Maybe Friday prompt, I instead show you something FUN!  (Though it could be funny if you aren't a fan or find it incredibly funny since well, it is 80's goodness at its best! Or worst.  Ah, feathered hair and aquanet hair spray, half shirts and tight rolled I do not miss you!)  Below are a few videos for your Friday viewing pleasure and and just try to get these songs out of your head once you've listened...I dare you! Mwahahahahaha!  The first two are songs straight out of an 80's playlist and the third video is one of his newer songs.  And seriously, even if you are laughing your ass off at the fact that I am singing the praises of Rick Springfield and decide to skip the first two, check out the last video. It's one of the singles from his 2008 album and is one of my faves.

And good lord...check out the horrible 80's style in the video below...What the hell were we thinking back then?! I mean...shoulder pads...seriously?!  Still, you can imagine that as a kid growing up in the 80's, I had posters of him all over my wall...along with a number of other 80s stars who shall remain nameless at this time. (Admitting I still go to Rick Springfield concert's is enough humiliation for one day!)

This is a live version of his 2008 single, "What's Victoria's Secret".  

Okay, so I made my confession about my love of an 80's heartthrob who is still, well a heartthrob in my eyes.  What about you? Is there a musician or group you listen to that you are embarrassed to admit liking? Or someone 's songs you only sing out loud or dance to when you're alone?  C'mon, sound off in the comments below--I won't judge! (Heck, I probably will like them too! Or at least add them to my playlist!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

No More Teachers, No More Books: A ROW80 Check In

I'M DONE!!  For the semester anyways. 
*Cheers and claps, throws glitter, and does cartwheels. Or tries to. I never was good at gymnastics....*

Can you tell I am super happy about this?! My papers are done, my last final  will be turned in tomorrow morning, and my brain can now have a bit of a vacation until the end of the month, when I start teaching summer classes.  But even then, I won't mind because I have NO.MORE.PAPERS to write! YAY!!! I can focus on my WiP and read the books that have been sitting in my TBR pile since forever and sleep in and not worry on Sundays about all the essays and readings I have to get done by the end of the week.  Oh I am just ecstatic over this.  ECSTATIC!

Okay, I'm calm now.  Or calmer.  And before I go dance about my living room to some music from the Cure, here where I stand at the mid-week check-in:

Writing:  I haven't gotten any of my 3 hours/week of writing in, but there is a whole lot left of this week and I plan on knocking this goal out of the way by Sunday.

Research/Papers:  This goal is done, done and done! Woot!  Time to re-evaluate my goals and kick the writing and exercising up a notch I think.  I will post my re-vamped goals on Sunday.

Exercise:  Now that my classes are over and I don't have to bury myself in research every night I plan on getting back on track with this goal.  I have time carved out to get in three workouts between now and Sunday and I am actually excited about it.  Who knew that even I would miss getting my yoga and daily stretching in?!

In addition to the above, I am trying to stay on track with Blog Me Maybe. I missed last Friday's post, and didn't get one out on Monday because I was preoccupied with studying for, and then taking, a final.  I did get a post in yesterday though about the Sunshine Award Em had bestowed upon me awhile back.  As I said previously, I probably won't hit a post every day for the month of May (and definitely not on Wednesdays since this is a ROW80 check in day), but I should be able to get two to three non update posts out per week.

Well, that's it for my update, and now I am off to work.  How is everyone else doing with your goals?  Time to re-evaluate or still on track?  Good luck!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Little Bit of Sunshine On This Very Rainy Day

I received the Sunshine Award from the Em over at  Loves To Read, Wants to Write and have been waiting and waiting for school to wind down so I could post about it on my blog.  It has been such a crazy month that other than ROW80 updates and, starting last week, the Blog Me Maybe posts, I've been slacking in the blogging and social media departments.  All that will *hopefully* be changing once Thursday hits since that will be my first day of freedom from both taking classes and teaching them. *throws confetti in celebration* At least for the 19 days I will have before I start teaching two classes this summer!  

Anyways, the rules are pretty simple: Answer the following 10 questions and then pass the award on to those who make me smile and brighten my day. I think I am supposed to tag like 10 people, but I honestly don't know if I know 10 people who haven't done this already. And for course it's voluntary-just cause I tag you, don't feel obligated to post anything. This is just me throwing some sunshine-y goodness your way!!

1) Favourite colour? - Orange. I love orange anything.  Oranges; reeses pieces (the orange ones); the # 20 Home Depot car (NASCAR--though not as much as I used to since Tony Stewart doesn't drive it anymore); Syracuse University--not only where I went to law school, but they are the Syracuse Orange after all; I love the word itself too, or-ange.  Only orange thing I don't like is cooked carrots. I hate the taste and the smell, but the color is spot on!

2) Favourite animal? - There aren't many animals I don't like, though I do hate all things that are not mammals (bugs and bees, I am talking to you!).  I've always had dogs and/or cats growing up, and currently have a cat (an almost 2 year half Siamese terror named Dutchess).

3) Favourite number? - I'll give you my top three.  #30.  Henrik Lundqvist's number for the New York Rangers hockey team.  Love him-and also, the year I turned 30 was pretty awesome for me. And #22--that is Brian Boyle's number.  Also a NY Ranger. But my all time favorite number ever?  Number 11.  This is the legendary Mark Messier's number 11 and the number I wore in soccer (since I can't ice skate to save my life, I played soccer!).  Messier was a prolific New York Ranger and we wouldn't have had 1994 without him. Are you sensing a pattern here?

4) Favourite non-alcoholic drink? - Tea.  Especially Chai (but not the kind made with water..blech)  Sparkling water ranks up there too. I started drinking it when I gave up soda and it totally has beaten back the cravings for soda.  Soda is's like crack, at least for me. (And I have a post that is kinda about this coming up this week or next once I can polish it up a bit...)

5) Facebook or Twitter? Twitter.  I hate Facebook.  I have a FB account under my non-pen name but I rarely ever go on it. As a family court lawyer (or reformed lawyer?  I'm moving out of law and into teaching English full time) I see Facebook used too many times to hurt people: like ex spouses snarking/saying hateful things at each other in full view of their kids, friends, and relatives; and kids using it to bully each other in schools.  In theory it's great, but when people are douche bags, which is what I see all on an almost daily basis, it makes me want to have nothing to do with it.

6) My passion? Family and friends. And writing.  And hockey. :)  

7) Getting or giving presents? I love getting presents but I like to give too though the shopping part gives me heart burn. I dislike shopping when it involves having to go to a mall.  Amazon ftw!

8) Favourite pattern? I don't really have a favorite--whatever I see that catches my eye I guess!

9) Favourite day of the week? Saturday.  I love to just curl up with a book and read on Saturday and not feel compelled to do any work.  Saturday is a day I can sleep in and just relax. I wish everyday could be Saturday...

10) Favourite flower? Lily of the Valley.  I love them, and they also happen to be the flower for the month of May, I think, and May is the month I was born (May 29th to be exact!). We had them growing along our driveway growing up and I remember picking them for my mom; and the smell is just heavenly.

So there are my 10 answers, and now I pass on the Sunshine Award to some other well deserving folks.  If you already got the award and did the post, don't worry about posting again! Just know you all brighten my day! (And of course I send this award back to Em in spirit since she is one of those people!)

They are pretty splendiferous people and talented writers/creative folks so definitely check them out if you get a chance! A bunch of awesome writers have already gotten the Sunshine award, like LaurenLenaJuliana, so I won't send them the award again, but seriously, if you haven't already, be sure to check them out too! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Can See The Light....

At the end of the tunnel that is!

I have three days until the semester is over. I think I am a little bit in shock because I seriously cannot believe it has gotten here so fast!  I also can't believe I've held it together as well as I have and give most of the credit to ROW80 and the goals I set.  Knowing that I was accountable to the challenge and myself kept me moving along, even when that evil demon of procrastination was whispering in my ear, urging me to do something other than my research and papers.  It was telling me that of course I had time to play video games; nudging me to pick up The Hunger Games or one of the other hundred books I have in my TBR pile.  It was taunting me; pressuring me to stray from the work I had to get done. But I simply glared at the demon, turned my back on it and kept moving forward, stepping closer and closer to the finish line and farther away from the distractions.  I couldn't have done this without all of my fellow ROW-ers who have cheered me on and kept me on track.  So thank you for helping me slay that demon and hopefully purge him from my life completely.  Life is so much easier and more fun, when I just do what needs to get done and don't wait until the last minute.

With my research/papers goal nearly complete, I will be re-evaluating and re-vamping my goals for the remainder of this round.  I know that I will probably add a reading goal, since I am way behind on my GoodReads challenge, and I will also increase my writing time each week just a tad.  But I will decide all that next Sunday and give my brain some time to just chill out after a hectic semester.  As for how I've done this week, here's my update:

Writing: My goal was to write 3 hours a week, I somehow got in 4.  I was only able to join in for about a half a sprint this past week, however, I was able to do some writing in the evenings and made some decisions regarding scene placement.  I've never been much of a planner but as of right now I have finished setting out all the scenes and have a good idea where and how this will end. I can't wait to devote more time to writing because I am loving where this WiP is headed.

Research/Papers:  All the research is done and I am 2/3 of the way finished with my last paper!! *fist pumps and dances around the living room* As you can probably tell, I am super excited about this.  I will still have one final Tuesday and one on Wednesday, but those will be the easy part, since it's been the papers that have been dogging me more than anything else.

Exercise: Don't ask.

So that's it for me. I am off to spend the rest of Sunday finishing up this paper so that tomorrow I can complete any revisions and send it off tomorrow night. I also teach my last class of the semester tomorrow so I will definitely be celebrating both events with a glass of wine, or two!  Good luck to everyone with their goals for the week and see you Wednesday!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Thursday prompts for the Blog Me Maybe blogfest are:  May I tell you something about someone else.  So it might seem weird that I have a book review posted, but well this day of the blogfest is all about letting the light shine on someone (or something) else, and I think today, that light should be on Khaled Hosseini, the author of A Thousand Splendid Suns.  

First let me back up and explain something.  This post has been a long time coming.  I had picked this book for the March meeting of book club-yes, I said March.  Whoever the host is gets to pick the book, and let me tell you I had a hella time picking one out of the stack that I have.  I was literally on my floor going through them all when a friend of mine suggested it.  I jumped on it since it was a title I had been planning to read for some time but just had never gotten around to.  I was worried that the group wouldn't be to into it, since the prior few months the books that had been chosen were good, just do I say this? They were more like a beach read in terms of content.  Easy, fun , but nothing too serious that really made you think.  And I'm not saying that is a bad thing--I read to escape too and love fun reads (you should see my TBR pile!) but sometimes something heavier is in order.  And this book is that, in a fantastic, eye opening sort of way. 

The book starts off in Afghanistan, around 1959, and the look given of the country is so different from the Afghanistan we hear of today.  Or at least the one that I always pictured.  The descriptions are rich and colorful, vibrant even, providing a view of the country which I had never, ever imagined.  Through the eyes of two women, the author paints a picture of a country, and people, that were fighting for its right to decide their own fate.  Eventually, the years of chaos and war allowed extremist groups to take over and we all  know what happened after that.  One of the many issues that has plagued the country and its people is the repeal the rights of women and those who did not adhere to the governments extreme political, social and religious views.  This book shows the progression of the loss of these rights, and the reader is given about 40 years worth of history of a country, seen through the eyes of some of the most vulnerable people in that society-women. The evolution of this fragile country through the eyes of these women and children whose lives were affected is often difficult and heartbreaking to read, but also truly inspiring.  The resilience and love of the female characters, for that which they held close and for their country was astonishing.  And what they would do for each other in order to just survive, what they sacrificed... it literally took my breath away at times.

Khaled Hosseini presents a beautiful portrait of women fighting for their lives -literally- and for love, among a country devastated by war from the 1960s onward.  Full of heartbreak and hope, this book, in my opinion, is a must read.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Studying, Writing and Blogging, Oh My!

Doesn't have the same ring to it as the lions and tigers and bears, but...well, it's a good summation of my week so far!  It's been crazy and busy and my brain hurts, but so far it's all been worth it!  Here's my ROW80 update:

Writing:  The only writing I've been doing is with regard to my research paper. I am itching to get back to my WiP, but...classes are a priority for the next week.

Research/Writing:  Tuesday I banged out 12 pages (11 really, since the 12th is the work cited page) and about 3500 words, so I am half way there.  And I have a bunch more research to include, plus my conclusion so I will be hitting the 7K mark with no problems.  I took tomorrow off and will be spending the day finishing the draft so I can revise/edit during tutoring hours on Friday morning and complete any additional revisions over the weekend.  The revisions are always the easy part, and with it not being due until Tuesday, I should have no problem getting it completed well before then, even with the busy weekend coming up.  (More on that later this week!!)  The only other essay I have due is completed and ready to be sent off Friday morning.  I'd send it now, but we can't--has be to be handed in after Friday. Grrr...

Working Out:  Seriously, no way have I even been near this goal and I likely won't hit it again this week, much to my chagrin.  This will be the third week in a row of epic fail.  After May 9th, I will have to work out every day to make up for it! -.-

The first day of Blog Me Maybe is done, and you can see my first post here! The blogfest is pretty flexible in terms of the posting schedule (in other words, I don't have to post everyday), and since Wednesdays are ROW80 update days, I will probably not write a BMM post on Wednesdays.  We'll see how things go-who knows, maybe I will combine the two next week, but this week I'm just too swamped to consider that option!

As for the blogfest itself, sure it's only been one day but I am loving it!  I've run into some great bloggers and writers so far, and I have found a lot of things to blog about.  So much that I think I will end up having posts for well after May!  I know that sounds kinda crazy, but...I had a ton of draft posts that I just never put out there.  So I've been finishing the drafts, editing, starting new ones, and just having fun with it all.  My goals are that by the end of month I will have (1) gotten into the habit of blogging (especially about different topics other than writing); and (2) decided on a blogging schedule. Right now, I think I can safely say that will happen.  (Now if only the blogger schedule thingy would work, things would be even better! *shakes fist at blogger*)

The light is clearly at the end of the tunnel for me with the classes I've been taking and the one's I've been teaching.  I'm all caught up on grading and should be ready to plow through the students' final exams and research papers when they hand them in next week with no trouble at all.  At the beginning of this round I was seriously worried that I wouldn't be able to get everything done and that I'd end up a sobbing puddle of tears on the floor of my office.  Can I tell you how happy I am that I am NOT a sobbing puddle of tears?!  Seriously.Frickin.Happy.

I hope everyone is ROW-ing right along and I look forward to getting back into the daily sprints next week! See you Sunday!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tag!!! I'm It! And the First Day of Blog Me Maybe

Today is the first day of the Blog Me Maybe blogfest for the month of May. (Note the button to your left!)  You'll be seeing a lot of this button on my blog posts this month as I take the leap and join in, all in an effort to get back into the habit of blogging about things that interest me, and hopefully those who stop on over to my blog as well.  Sara says it best when she says, "...really the point of this is to focus mostly on our own blogs and to write posts about things we're interested in that our followers will want to read about." (via Sara McClung)  I doubt I will hit a post everyday (still have a crazy schedule for the next 10 days before a two and half week break!), but I will at least have a guide in terms of general topic areas.  So I hope you enjoy the the Blog Me Maybe series and check out the rest of the participants via the linky at the Blog Me Maybe post.

First, I want to say that this post is way overdue.  See, I got tagged by Em and Lauren for the 7 Facts Tag but with everything going on, I haven't found a minute to post this.  But, with the blogfest starting, what better way to start it off than by letting everyone know a little bit about me, my writing and how it all came to be.  Well, some of it anyways.  So, here goes:

1. My family hasn't read anything I've written since the 8th grade.  It was then that a teacher told my mother there was something wrong with me because I wrote a story about a teenager who died and came back to earth as an angel (among other things). Not exactly an original idea or anything, but apparently this teacher was, well just an ass and decided to scare the hell out of my parents.  I mean seriously, it was a story!  I wonder what Stephen King's teachers thought of him...I mean, geesh! Anyways, after that,  I wrote in secret and kept all my stories hidden from that point on until I went to college.  In my freshman year, a published author had gone through our creative writing papers and then came to our class to speak.  He picked the best story out of the bunch to read to the class and it was mine. I cried for days because I felt like I had finally gotten some validation with my writing.

2.  Because of the above, no one in my family knows that I take writing seriously.  In fact, I don't think any of them have any idea that I still write.  And I won't offer up the information either.  I know that sounds kind of, well sad and pathetic, but it's not cause I am worried about they will think (I've moved well beyond worrying about what they think, thank goodness!).  I am just not ready to.

3.   In the late fall of 2010 I found an amazing community of writers and creators as I made my way through the world of gaming and virtual worlds.  Without having met them, I would not have ever had the courage to to even think of putting my stories out there for people to see.  They helped me, and continue to help me, come out of my shell a little bit more each day.

4.  When I was in middle school and high school, I wrote a series of short stories about a group of friends who were teenage 'detectives' that solved crimes of both the real and paranormal kind.  Think The Babysitters Club meets Nancy Drew meets Fear Street meets Ghostbusters.  I still have those stories, written in a combination of pencil and multi-colored pen ink, every other line skipped, on wide ruled loose leaf paper.  (Remember those pens with like, 5 different colors in them to choose from?!  That's the kind of I used for the stories.  I loved those things!)

5.  I constantly have music on when I am writing.  I can't write in silence.  As I go along, I keep note of the songs that have had a significant impact on my work.  I have a long playlist for my short story, Through the Rain.  And the newest WiP's playlist is getting rather long. One of these days I will do a couple blog posts about them to share the tunes with others.

6.  The WiP I started during NaNoWriMo (which I didn't finish, but that is another story) is on the back burner for now.  I had to put that one aside when I hit a bit of block in March.  There was a battle royale going on in my head about what Abby, the main character, would choose.  I finally made the decision in what I hope will be an interesting and plot twisty sort of way!

7.  The WiP I am currently working on has a main character, Charli, who is probably my most favorite ever.  This world is truly inspring and the story is just pouring out of me, which is one reason I am anxious to get classes over with!  I am thinking this will be novella length-ish, with possibly another story or two after the first one.  Don't know for sure, since I'm waiting to see where Charli, and her cohorts, take me.

And there it is, 7 Facts about me/my writing.  The second part of this meme is to tag 7 people but I think many people I know have already been tagged.  I've tried to tag people who I don't think have been tagged before, and so I have fallen short of the magic number 7,  I really hope a meteor doesn't fall out of the sky and crush me, or that I get bad luck forever, for not having 7! 0.0  jk jk!   If you've already done it, or don't want to, that's totally cool-you still rock in my estimation!  I just wanted everyone to know that the following writers and bloggers are awesome sauce, and to hop on over and check out their stuff!