A Weekend In Bullet Points

  • I got home early on Friday, which was glorious, but then the electricity went out less than an hour after I got home, which was not so glorious.
  • Since it went out due to a storm that blew in, a ton of people in the state were out, so it took a few hours for it to be fixed. I didn’t know when it was going to come back on, so I ended up going to Whole Foods for dinner. I actually hadn’t wanted to go out, but everything I had to make required electricity to make it. Some people were out for way longer than I was though, so I’m not complaining.
  • I shopped and read books on Saturday. Oh, and seven months after starting the draft of my novel, I finished it on Saturday night around ten pm. Of course, I immediately started on another book, the one I was outlining concurrently with writing the now-finished draft.
  • I wish I could stay home and write tomorrow. Why don’t we make random days writing days when we don’t have to go to work?!
  • On Friday I picked up a book of essays about the Russian revolution. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it because it looks really good.
  • I wrote so much last night and tonight that I think my June word count will be amazing based on that alone. I really need to throw in more 3,000-word days because those really have a way of upping the daily average! 😉
Advertisements

The Exam Result Is In!

Remember in my last post when I talked about how studying for the final part of a certification exam took over my life? Well, I took the aforementioned exam on Saturday. Saturday afternoon, to be exact. I’d wished I’d been able to get an earlier time, but I got there early and they let me start early, so that worked out well.

Anyway, I received my result right away. This isn’t like some exams where you have to wait for weeks at a time before finding out if you passed or not. And yes, I do have good news: I passed! That means I passed all the exams on the first try and after I file some paperwork, I will finally have my certification!

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have passed. Not only was I sick of studying, but I really thought I was going to fail when I was actually taking the exam. There were some really tricky questions that I struggled with. I did a lot of preparation, but there were still concepts I hadn’t seen before.

Anyway, I did some actual fiction writing tonight, and now I’m writing this blog post. I do plan to resume blogging again, so get ready for that. I have some pretty good posts in the works, if I don’t say so myself. 🙂

Trapped In Test Land

I haven’t written fiction in almost three weeks.

My apartment desperately needs a good cleaning, but that’s not going to happen right now.

I haven’t played violin in months.

I haven’t worked on my knitting since the beginning of the month.

And I haven’t blogged in forever. I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since I wrote a Wednesday Music post.

Yes, my friends, it has happened. I thought I’d be done with studying after I finished school, but that’s not the case. I decided a few weeks ago to sit down and start studying for the last exam I need for my professional certification. I’m tired of the whole thing hanging over my head, so I’ve been studying nonstop. Obviously I still have to work, too, so there hasn’t been much time for doing things other than studying, I’m afraid.

There is an end in sight because my test date is coming up. Either I’ll pass or I won’t. If I don’t, I’ll be terribly demoralized and have to study more so I can retake it, but I’m really hoping I’ll pass. Then I can get back to writing, both fiction and nonfiction on this blog.

Until then, the posting here is likely to be sporadic, but I hope to start posting regularly again soon!

Life Without Feedly

I’ve been using the RSS reader Feedly since 2013, when Google unexpectedly and unpleasantly announced that it was shutting down Google Reader forever and ever. Feedly was the closest alternative—design-wise, it somewhat resembled Google Reader but was slightly better. (Design has never been Google’s strong suit, if you ask me…)

Fast forward to 2017. Feedly is quite popular since it gained a lot of users when Google Reader died an early death. Unfortunately, the designers and developers at Feedly have been tinkering with it more and more. They kept changing where the settings were, what everything looked like, and all sorts of things. I got sick of it, so a few weeks ago, I exported my feeds and deleted my account.

I started using the WordPress.com reader and it’s surprisingly decent. I mean, I tried it once before and didn’t like it, so I am pleasantly surprised this time around. Granted, I don’t know how useful this would be to someone who doesn’t blog and/or comment a lot with their WordPress.com account. Yes, you do need an account to use it (but that goes for just about any web-based RSS reader out there). I’m a tiny bit obsessed with WordPress, so it is nice to have all of the sites I follow in the same place as my blogging.

I like how it knows what I’m interested in, LOL. Click to see larger.

If you are looking for a central hub to keep up with your favorite sites, I think this reader is worth a try. And just so you know, WordPress did not pay me to say any of this. Though in advance, I feel compelled to tell any WordPress employees reading this that I am willing to accept payment in the form of free WordPress.com goodies (as in, the various paid upgrades they offer) or cold hard cash wired into a bank account. 😉

My First Business Trip

Okay, the title of this post is a little bit misleading. This wasn’t my first business trip—the trip to New York in 2015 that I forgot to blog about was my first business trip—but this was my first trip with my current company.

The city by night after we arrived

Two of my coworkers and I went to a major city in the southeastern US. We ate some fabulous food, which was great. My prior company had a limit of what you could spend per day on meals. I think it was $25 or $35, which isn’t very much for a major city. My current company doesn’t have that. We are asked to “use judgment” when choosing where to eat, which I interpreted to mean that the five star restaurant I really wanted to go to was off-limits. Within reason, though, we could eat anything we wanted. Swiping the corporate card was very satisfying. 😉

However, the highlight of this trip was the hotel. We stayed in a Four Seasons, which was a first for me. I’ve wanted to stay in one for a while. Allow me to explain.

Several years ago, I started writing a crime thriller. In one of the scenes at the beginning, my intrepid protagonist gets to stay in a Four Seasons with her wealthy cousin (the cousin’s wealth greatly ties into the crime aspect of the book). I stopped working on the book for a while, then came back to it in 2015 and finished it. In preliminary edits, I ended up cutting the Four Seasons scenes—too much backstory—but those scenes still had been fun to write and I harbored a secret desire to stay in a Four Seasons. (Also, that book is one of my favorites that I’ve written so far, so I really need to go back and give it a proper editing and try to sell it to a publisher.)

Anyway, who would have guessed that years later, I would be able to stay in a Four Seasons? It was a very neat experience and I do have photographic evidence to share with you.

Here’s the hotel room: the first photo is at night after we arrived and the second is during the day.

The bathroom was quite luxurious, so I had to photograph that as well.

That’s a five-star toilet right there.

And that, my friends, was my experience at the Four Seasons. I ate the restaurant one morning for breakfast, which was decidedly lackluster, so I went to a local bakery the other mornings. Of course, the whole time I was there working and eating with my coworkers, I kept thinking of the book I wrote and how my trip wasn’t just an ordinary business trip. It doubled as book research, a fact I’m sure all my fellow fiction writers will appreciate.

Inspiring Writing Links

I have a folder in my bookmarks called “Later” where I save things that I want to share with you on this blog. I’ve had these two links saved there for ages, so I am finally going to post them.

The first is called “Beginning to self-edit.” Writer Sherwood Smith talks about visiting a writing workshop run by a friend. The writers had all finished NaNoWriMo and were beginning to edit their novels. The advice in the whole post is interesting, but I saved the link to share this one bit:

The next couple of people’s suggestions were a bit more idiosyncratic: “Throw out the first three chapters of any first draft,” —great advice sometimes, but by no means universal, especially for writers who actually begin the story too late, and end up shoe-horning a ton of flashback into the front in order to orient the bewildered reader—and, “Make sure your ending closes the story suggested by the beginning.”

A lot of advice I’ve seen talks about starting the novel too early in the story, so it was gratifying to see Smith mention that it is also possible to start too late. I had that very problem—beginning my story too late—with the book I’m currently working on. In my case, I think I started it about twenty-five percent too late. The draft I’m currently working on starts a bit earlier. And while I do know the story still will need editing, I do think it’s stronger right now than it used to be.

The next link is the about page of fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. I’ve never read any of his work, but I have heard of him. What I didn’t know until recently was how much he wrote before he found a publisher. His website says he wrote seven novels as an undergraduate. I read somewhere else that he had thirteen complete by the time he sold his first book (which was the sixth or seventh book he wrote, if I remember correctly). I think the moral of the story here is that we writers just need to keep writing. I mean, thirteen novels is some real commitment. I’m impressed.

March 2017 Writing Report

The March writing report is rather dismal. Honestly, I kind of just want to skip it and forget that it happened. But in the interest of transparency, here it is.

I wrote a total of 12,642 words in March, which is an average of 408 per day. That’s dreadful because my goal for this year is 700 per day. I skipped writing on 18 days, which I think is a record for me this year! On the days I did write, I actually did quite well, so I think the problem was not enough writing. I can’t remember what I was doing instead of writing. It certainly wasn’t crocheting because I’m still working on my pink afghan, even though I wanted to be finished months ago!

So here’s to a better writing month in April. I’ve missed some days already, but that’s okay because we all need a break. I’m almost finished with my outline, which is great. I can’t wait to start writing my next book!