June 27, 2013

What's Up Wednesday...ur, Thursday

Since I was feeling like crud all day Tuesday, I wasn't able to schedule a post for Wednesday, so I'm posting today instead.

I finally finished Great Expectations and am now reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I've seen the miniseries and totally loved it. (Hello, Richard Armitage.) I read Mary Barton by Gaskell when I was in university and really enjoyed it. So far this one is good too. (Which comes as no surprise.) Along with these two books, I'm reading Siege and Storm. Still. I haven't had tons of time to sit down and read which is kind of poopy, but such is life.

Well...I kind of tanked at meeting my goals this week. I didn't do any revisions on Watch of Night and I only wrote about 1500 words all told on my new WIP. Between lack of motivation, other obligations, family visiting from out of town, and being sick, I just didn't do it. Sure, I'm disappointed in myself, but at the same time I know that forcing it would end up in a pile of rubbish that I just don't want to deal with. That said, I'm aiming a little lower this week because I know how busy I'm going to be:

          Thursday, June 27th
          • 500 new words on WIP and/or revisions on Watch of Night - DONE! (1300 words)

          Friday, June 28th
          • 250+ new words on WIP and/or revisions on Watch of Night - incomplete (only about 200)

          Saturday, June 29th & Sunday, June 30th
          • DAYS OFF

          Monday, July 1st
          • work on character development for new WIP - started on Tuesday

          Tuesday, July 2nd
          • 250 new words on WIP and/or revisions on Watch of Night - DONE! 1300 words. Booyah!*

I've been hearing about Nelson Mandela's condition the past few days on the news. He's on life support now, and it's sad to think that the world is set to lose such a great man in the coming days. So much about Nelson Mandela inspires me, particularly his work to end apartheid and his ability to forgive even after everything done to him. Truly an inspiration.

Besides fighting off migraines, barfing, and sunburning the heck out of my face? Oh, not much. This past Saturday I spent the entire day at the local Highland Games. It was a beautiful day, likely because I showed up in rubber boots. Like an idiot. (See flooding in Alberta below. There was a legit reason for the boots.) This is a video of the mass bands at the end of the day. My band is the group in red kilts on the right.** I'm not yet performing with them in public because I'm still not able to march and play. Yet.

As some of you know, there has been massive flooding in our province, so this past week I've been following a lot of coverage of that. Thankfully, the river we're on didn't overflow that much, so we were largely unaffected. My parents both work in Calgary which was one of the cities most affected. It was something else to see the military driving through our city en masse and heading south to help with flood aid. Not something you see every day and something you hope not to see again soon. It's going to take a long time to deal with all of the damage. It's amazing to see the small and big ways others help those who've been affected by these kinds of disasters. I guess you could say that this is something that's inspiring me right now too.


* Not a word I normally use, but I think the occasion merits it.
** And, yes, the pom pom-y hats and short-sleeved blue shirt combo is sort of cheesy, but what can you do?

June 26, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

Hi everyone,

I'm seriously under the weather right now, so I won't be posting a What's Up Wednesday post today. I hope to post tomorrow or the next day with my Ready. Set. WRITE! goals for the week, but we'll have to see how I feel. In the meantime, make sure to leave your link below so others can read your post.



June 19, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of this post. We really hope you will take part!

I'm almost done Great Expectations and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (both are fantastic reads), and I just cracked open Siege and Storm, the sequel to Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone.  I'm in love with all of the embellishments throughout. So darn pretty!

How did I do meeting last week's goals? I met them all and surpassed a few of them too, mostly in the word count department. Not that I wrote tons, but I was able to pass that daily goal of 250 words minimum. Not hard to do, but still. I also managed to get a bunch of revisions done on the other story. Still more to do, but it's progress! 

So, what's up for this week and Ready. Set. WRITE?:
(NB: Revisions are on my sci-fi WIP Watch of Night )  
          Wednesday, June 19th
          •  Revise: add brief paragraph/scene re: 'prep' - NOT DONE :(
          •  Write: if time, write at least 250 words on SNI (busy day, small target) - NOT DONE :(
          Thursday, June 20th
          •  Revise: check for setting description - NOT DONE :(
          •  Write: at least 250 words on SNI - DONE! {900 words}

          Friday, June 21st
          •  Revise: start weeding out the multitude of 'I's - NOT DONE :(
          •  Write: at least 250 words on SNI - DONE! {600 words}

          Saturday, June 22nd & Sunday, June 23rd
          •  days off {because: LIFE}

          Monday, June 24th
          •  Revise: rework chapter heading timelines 
          •  Write: at least 250 words on SNI

          Tuesday, June 25th
          •  Revise: add some 'flavour' to MC
          •  Write: at least 250 words on SNI

{Not sure if you noticed, but each day when I met my goals, I went back to last week's What's Up Wednesday post, highlighted those particular goals and left a note about my progress. It was a fun (albeit slightly neurotic) way of keeping me motivated.} 

To be honest, I've been feeling a bit uninspired and unmotivated lately where writing is concerned. All I want to do is enjoy the sun and spend my days reading. If I could set aside writing and spend my entire summer reading outside, I'd be a very happy Jaime.

I'm learning how to play my snare drum and march at the same time and it is HARD. Not going to lie. I have bruises on the fronts of my thighs (this thing weighs 20lbs) and my hip really starts to ache from the awkward gait. It's this bizarre combo of shuffling along and feeling like I'm 80 while simultaneously feeling like I'm an infant just learning to walk. But, we take part in parades, so...

For as long as I've lived in my city, I've thought the public library here had crap all for YA books. Turns out there's something to this whole ASSUME: ASS out of U and ME thing. I finally asked if the YA books were in with Children's (which is what I thought). Turns out there's a whole YA section on the mezzanine that I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT. Gah! You guys, it's like a goldmine up there. They have a librarian dedicated to YA, so I was told if there's anything they don't have that I'd like to read, to mention it. Cool, right?

{Clockwise from top left} Our pipe and drum band opening the Relay For Life, an event raising money for cancer research
(And, yes, that is a Mountie. He looked like he was twelve.); a fun little sign in the YA section of our public library; the mezz is
apparently where they've been hiding all the YA books in our library; and Cool Beans Coffee Company, a double-decker bus
coffee shop we stumbled across recently in our downtown. (My spiced brown sugar latte was so yummy and not too sweet.)

Some quick reminders: Don't forget to leave your link below for your Ready. Set. WRITE!/What's Up Wednesday post. Also, a big part of Ready. Set. WRITE! is support and accountability as well as providing an opportunity to branch out and meet some new writer friends. We would encourage you to visit a few new blogs each week, say 'hello', and spread the Ready. Set. WRITE! love. As a hosting team, we've committed to doing this as well, ensuring that each and every blog is visited by at least one of us each week. We're thrilled at the response to this writing intensive and want to encourage you in your writing endeavours this summer!

Here's to another great week of reading, sunshine, enjoying life, and Ready. Set. WRITE!-ing!

June 17, 2013

On Goals

I ♥ my day-timer. Like, whoa.
This past Wednesday when we set our Ready. Set. WRITE! goals I received a number of comments about my bulleted, no-nonsense, this-is-what-I-plan-on-doing-each-day list. I was kind of surprised by the response—that it was somehow out of the ordinary to be so organized and specific—since this seems perfectly normal to me. (Normal-ish?) Everything I was ever taught about goal-setting I used to craft my targets for this past week. (That said, I know this approach doesn't work for everybody.)

Let me digress for just a moment. The thing of it is, I love lists. Like, get a little giddy thinking about how I can turn something into an itemized list kind of junkie. The more bullets the better. It feels logical, and broken down like that, doable. There's something weirdly motivating about checking tasks off a list as I accomplish them. Who needs rewards when I can cross something off, put a giant check mark beside it, highlight it? Strange maybe, but then I never claimed to be anything but.

But back to goal-setting...

When I was a beginning teacher, I was required by my school board to create a list of yearly goals for myself, a professional document that would go on file and would be used at the end of the year as part of my evaluation. (Because being a brand spankin' new teacher and everything that comes along with that wasn't stressful enough, apparently.) We were encouraged to format our goals according to the S.M.A.R.T. system: (also known as Goal-Setting For Anal Retentive Folk Like Me :P)

SPECIFIC - This is exactly what I want to accomplish, right down to the number of words, for example.
MEASURABLE - Easy to measure the more specific you are (ex. word count targets, and so on).
ATTAINABLE - I know what I'm capable of, so I don't overshoot, and I'm less likely to fail.
RELEVANT - This is a writing intensive, right? Ergo, I aim to write and/or revise.
TIME-BOUND - Each goal is contained to a particular 24-hour day.

I guess this method kind of stuck. I continue to use it because it works for me. See, here's the thing: I'm a rationalizer of the worst variety and a pro at procrastination. If I come up with a semi-vague plan, the outcome is never what I'm hoping for and then I feel like a failure. If I have only a rough idea of what I want to accomplish rather than a specific "this is what I need to do", I end up racked with guilt for not doing more. Sounds ridiculous, but it's true. This way, if I commit myself to revising one chapter and writing a minimum of 250 words on a new project in a 24-hour day, I know it's a goal I can not only reach, but most likely exceed. Now that's a 'golden goal' if I've ever heard of one. (That's for you, Erin. And Sid. :D)

I don't mention this to say, "Hey, check me out. I'm a wiz at goal-setting." Rather, it's an approach that I've found useful and figured you might, too. If nothing else, it's a glimpse at the method in my madness, a sneak peek inside this wacky noodle of mine. (Scary, I know. O_O) It's the same reason I exercise on the treadmill for the length of a Veronica Mars episode (42 minutes without commercials) and write out a list of everything I want/need to do each day in my day-timer. (See above.) Works for me!

How about you? Do you have a go-to method for goal-setting? Feel free to share in the comments!

June 12, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of this post. We really hope you will take part!

I just finished The 5th Wave {which was really good} and I've moved on to How My Summer Went Up In Flames. I'm still reading Great Expectations  {chapter a day classic} as well as The Unlikely Pilgrimmage of Harold Fry  {book club pick} and really enjoying both. It's been challenging and a bit weird to flip flop between three books, but so far it's working all right.

As you may or may not know, today is the first official day of Ready. Set. WRITE! {For details and sign-up, go HERE.} That means it's goal-setting time! I'm going to start off with goals that fall a bit toward the conservative side just so I can see how things go. My CP, Jess, and I have an existing writing arrangement that we've recently altered for the summer months, so I'll be factoring that into my weekly goals as well:

          Wednesday, June 12th
          •  revise Chapter 32 of my WIP, Watch of Night - DONE! 
          •  start creating an outline/plans for SNI, On Impact * - DONE!

          Thursday, June 13th
          •  revise Chapter 33 of Watch of Night - DONE!
          •  write at least 250 new words on SNI - DONE! {I wrote over 1000 words today.}

          Friday, June 14th
          •  revise Chapter 34 of Watch of Night - DONE!
          •  write at least 250 new words on SNI - DONE! {Another 1K day.}

          Saturday, June 15th & Sunday, June 16th
          •  days off {because: LIFE}

          Monday, June 17th
          •  revise Chapter 35 of Watch of Night - DONE!
          •  write at least 250 new words on SNI - DONE! {Only 700 words today, but that's OK.}

          Tuesday, June 18th
          •  additional revisions to Watch of Night - DONE! {Brief addition of details to a scene.}
          •  write at least 250 new words on SNI - DONE! {I wrote 1300 words today.}

***NB:  I came back and revised my writing goals for the week because I realized they were FAR too ambitious and I have no wish to set myself up to fail (and flail) right from the start. I still think they're probably overshooting, but we'll see how it goes.***

All of YOU! It's all kinds of inspiring making connections with you on this blog {and yours}, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere. You make me smile and laugh out loud, you make me feel included and encouraged, but most of all, you make me thrilled to be part of such a wonderful community. So, a thousand times, thank you! And, of course, Ready. Set. WRITE! inspires me to get writing!

I've become part of a project that I can't yet talk about {sneaky girl is sneaky}, but soon! I've been trying to stay afloat with all of the stuff that seems to be keeping me super busy these days. Trying to get used to the fact that Hubby's heading off to Texas for a month for work. So far away and for so long. Boo. Aside form that I've been reading, revising, writing--the usual. Oh, and messing around with photo apps on my phone:

I used the meme function on my phone's Aviary app to tweak
a photo I shared for the FMSPhotoADay topic "an animal".
{That's our chubby baby, Pete. The reference is to Titanic.}


* A YA contemporary with a smidge of sci-fi mixed in.  I'll probably talk about it a little more as the weeks go by. For now, it's still barely more than an idea and not quite ready to be shared.

June 11, 2013

Are You Ready?

Last week when we pitched our summer writing intensive Ready. Set. WRITE! to you, we were thrilled by the response. Hard not to get even more excited about this knowing so many of you will be joining us. Not sure what the heck I'm talking about?

Here's a quick recap in the ole 5W format:

Anybody interested in getting some serious writing or revising done this summer. Whatever stage you're at in the writing process, you're invited to join in.

A two (ish) month-long writing intensive for writers that includes weekly goals and updates, and a whole lot of encouragement, accountability, and support along the way. Each week we'll check in during What's Up Wednesday, share what we accomplished and set new goals for the coming week in the What I'm Writing section. {If monthly or overall goals work better for you, that's great too.} And if you feel so inclined, you can even share a snippet of what you wrote. Or just gush a bunch. We're cool with that too.

Where do you sign up? Why, right here in the linky thingy below or on any of these host blogs: Erin L. Funk, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, or Elodie Nowodazkij. The What's Up Wednesday check-ins happen on your blog, but the links to other What's Up Wednesday posts will be right here.

June 11th to August 28th. Starting today, you can sign up on any of the five host blogs {as listed above}. Come up with some weekly goals for yourself {or monthly or overall goals} and join us tomorrow during What's Up Wednesday to share those goals with us.

Because we all need a little motivation to get our butts in chairs and our hands on keyboards. Accountability and support are irreplaceable in this whole writing journey thing, as I'm sure you'll agree. Setting our own goals—no matter how conservative or ambitious—is a great way to get motivated and stay motivated. And what a rush when you meet or surpass those goals, right?

But wait! There's more...

We're going to try to organize occasional Twitter writing/revising parties. We'll set a start time to get writing and then head back to Twitter sometime later to discuss our progress. Here are our Twitter handles, and feel free to share yours in the comments:


The hashtag we will be using during this writing intensive {and for the Twitter parties} will be #ReadySetWrite.

As extra motivation to write our butts off, we thought a giveaway was in order, because who doesn't love a good giveaway? We're calling it the Writer's Care Package and there will be more details forthcoming. In the meantime, keep track of your progress.

Are you ready to Ready. Set. WRITE!? Get planning those goals and your What's Up Wednesday post for tomorrow. Spread the word. But most of all, get writing!

June 5, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of this post. We really hope you will take part!

This is kind of bonkers, but I'm currently reading three books at the same time. By choice. I'm still plugging away a chapter a day on Great Expectations, but I'm also reading The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce—my second adult read in under a week. What? I know, it's totally weird. {See more about this below.}

So this is kind of random, but I had this shiny new idea, jotted down a couple of thoughts relating to it, and then cranked out 2,500 words on it today. And the weirdest part about it is that I totally pantsed for probably the first time ever. I am SO not a pantser, but it was kind of fun! I feel like I'm cheating on my rewrite, but at this point I feel like all words are good words. I'm way too excited about this new idea, which is just, well, it's a distraction I really don't need right now. Ah well. This feels like a good place to mention Ready. Set. WRITE! again. {For details about this summer writing intensive, go HERE.} I hope to complete my rewrite, send it off to my CPs, then hopefully resubmit it. I've got a ton of other stories I'd love to get working on, so I'll be happy to be done with this WIP.

This EW interview with George R. R. Martin regarding the infamous Red Wedding. ***If you haven't watched the most recent episode or anything leading up to it, DON'T read the article. Spoilers abound.*** Without being spoilery, I was inspired by Martin's motivation behind the choices he made for this major plot point and others that were just as difficult to write. Let's just say it cast certain things in a different light for me, and I respect the reasons behind the decisions he made even if I don't exactly like them.

•  I joined a book club hosted by some local ladies who are all roughly my age. Actually, a couple of guys from my pipe and drum band mentioned that their wives were in this club and they hooked me up. From what I can tell, it's going to be all adult reads which wouldn't be my first choice, but the opportunities here are twofold: 1) To meet readers my age {who aren't enamoured of  Fifty Shades of Grey and other similar offerings}, and 2) to broaden my reading horizons, knowing this will only help my writing.

•  Speaking of my pipe and drum band, we're doing a battlefield tour of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands in August 2014. We'll be visiting and playing at a number of historically important landmarks which will be FANTASTIC. I'm going to brush up on my fairly rusty French since it will be helpful in 2 out of the 3 countries we're touring. To that end, I borrowed a couple of books in French from the library that I've read in English Anne of Green Gables {Anne...La Maison aux pignons verts} and The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones {Les 39 clés: L'énigme des catacombes}. I'm sure there are better approaches to this, but we'll see how it goes.

•  This past Saturday, my husband and I spent the entire day out of doors enjoying our city and the sunshine. We started off at the Farmers Market where we bought some rhubarb to make a pie with and also enjoyed listening to a local folk band, then we just wandered the downtown and the surrounding area. It was a great day all around and it made me appreciate this place more.
{Clockwise from top left} Beautiful flowering trees; a sunny day with bright blue skies and fluffy clouds; me and a bronze statue of Rev. Leonard Gaetz, a man that a major street in our city is named after; a bridge we happened upon on our walk; and Waskasoo, a local folk band.


June 3, 2013

Ready. Set. WRITE!

Are you lacking in motivation? Does it feel like your productivity is dwindling now that the sun is shining and luring you outdoors? Do accountability and goal-setting seem like things you really need in your life? Well, rest easy, folks! Have we got a solution for you...

{*End cheesy snake oil salesman pitch.*}

Recently, Alison Miller got to thinking that summer would be the perfect time to get some serious writing done. She pitched the idea of doing a summer writing intensive to a few of us, something that would stretch out a bit longer than NaNoWriMo and provide an opportunity for us to cheer each other on in whatever stage of writing we're at—planning, drafting, revising.

And that's how Ready. Set. WRITE! was born. Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Elodie Nowodazkij, Erin Funk, and I are hosting this summer writing intensive and we'd LOVE for you to join us! We plan to kick off a summer of writing Tuesday, June 11th and write, write, write for two months. We'll update weekly on what we've been writing and our new goals for the week? Care to join us in our writing bliss?! 

A few more dirty detes:

PURPOSE:  For drafting/revising/writing flash fiction, short stories, novels—whatever! As long as we're writing, right?

What we'll do:
  • Set weekly goals {or monthly or overall goals} for what we hope to achieve. Again, whatever works!
  • Update weekly on What's Up Wednesday {in the writing section, of course}. We'll share what we've accomplished and set goals for the new week. We can also include a snippet or just gush about our stories. {Don't know what What's Up Wednesday is? Check it out HERE.}

We'll also be hosting occasional drafting/revising parties on Twitter, providing lots of support for each other, and...AND sponsoring a giveaway! Ready. Set. WRITE! will kick off on Tuesday, June 11th with signups on our blogs. We'll set our first goals on the June 12th edition of What's Up Wednesday and update each other every Wednesday. In the meantime, decide what you want to write/revise. Set goals! Write a little. Or a lot. Spread the word! And be prepared to Ready. Set. WRITE!