Books

I Was Busy Winning!

I haven't written in a few weeks for a few reasons, Thanksgiving, other projects, etc. I am a bit disappointed in myself as I had made it a goal to post at least twice a week. But I forgive myself too. That's because during November I was signed up with National Novel Writing Month. I mentioned it early in the month, but didn't write more about it here because I like to tell you when I've DONE something more than I like to talk about planning to do something. 

So I did it! I wrote Every. Single. Day. in November, and I wrote past the goal of 50,000 words in that 30 day period. Do things like "winners badges" make a difference? Hell yes. I'm still a 7 year old kid sometimes. GIVE ME THE WINNER STICKER!

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There is much more work to be done on this particular writing project, so you'll hear more when I've gotten to my next milestone. 

I think I didn't realize how tired I was after getting up between 4:30 and 5am almost every day, even though I would be asleep by 10pm most nights. Last night at dinner out with Kurt and Harper, I had two glasses of prosecco. This was around 6pm. I was SOUND ASLEEP by 9! I also slept in till 6:30 today and am taking a break from writing today. Back at it tomorrow! 

Really really proud of myself. 

 


Juice Box Crocodiles and Harry Potter

We've been reading the Harry Potter series out loud to Harper. We have just finished Goblet of Fire. Harper asks us to read all the time, not just at bedtime, but before dinner and on the weekends. We love it. 

The other day, before dinner she asked me to read. Harry and Cedric had been transported to the graveyard of Tom Riddle. SPOILER ALERT - Then Cedric died and now Voldemort was back and wanting to duel with Harry as pretense to killing him. 

So - two things. 

1) The whole time I was reading this very dramatic passage, Harper had been drinking a box of apple juice. As it got more dramatic, I wasn't really paying attention to her except that she was cutting up the empty juice box. I finally glanced up from the stress of Voldemort wanting to kill Harry and Harry with no one to help him and saw that Harper was making this fantastic thing:

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I love it!

2nd Thing) When you haven't read Harry Potter (or seen the movies) in a long time, you forget the details. All I remembered about book 4 is that Cedric dies. What I didn't remember is that when Harry and Voldemort are dueling and they are connected by the golden beams between wands, ghosts start to come out of Voldemort's wands - Cedric, a couple others and then HARRY'S MOM AND DAD!! And they all come to speak to Harry, telling him to hold on, don't give up, they will give him time to run to the goblet/portkey to get back to Hogwarts. 

If you know me at all, you know I'm a big CRYER. So at this point I'm a mess. Harper is still cutting away on her juice box crocodile and she looks over "why are you crying?" and I laugh and beg her for some kleenex, which she kindly gets for me, and say "His mom and dad are here and they are helping him when he thought he was going to die!" She shrugged and kept on with her croc.

When does empathy kick in for kids??? 

She loves the stories and I know she's paying attention because earlier in the graveyard scene Voldemort talks to the Death Eaters who have apparated in to meet their newly reformed master. Voldemort talks to Lucious and Harper says, "I think that's Lucious Malfoy!" and when it is confirmed, she is pleased to have figured that out. I was pleased to know she's been really taking it all in. 

For Christmas I got Harper the Illustrated versions of Books 1-3. Don't tell her. 

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National Novel Writing Month Has Started!

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I am writing a novel. You should too! I joined up with National Novel Writing Month organization. They've been around for a while and this year I'm finally DOING IT. The goal is to write a novel (50,000 words) in the month of November. Totally doable!  A draft is a draft.

Today is my 6th day in a row so I've earned this badge already: 

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My story came to me while we were in England this year. I kept jotting down notes and thoughts and ideas, expecting to get to it sometime. Then I was reminded of NaNoWriMo and signed up. So glad I did! I like keeping score, which is what the group and website encourage you to do, very motivating.IMG_6134

There are challenges. The actual putting words to (virtual) paper is not the hard part.

My challenge is switching back to freakin' Pacific Standard Time last weekend! (I write in the early early hours before anyone else gets up.) But since the time change, Harper has been getting up even earlier than she normally would have. UGH! And she comes right to me. This morning I had been at it for about 20 minutes (My goal is 1 hour) and she came in and sat on my lap.

Mama, I had a bad dream

I'm sorry sweetheart! 

Can you read Harry Potter?

No.

I then made her lie on the guest bed in my office and doze for about 1/2 hour!  I wrote as far as I could before she started sitting in my lap again. And yes, I then read Harry Potter (we are in the middle of Goblet of Fire, FYI).

With all that, I have still written every day, can't wait to get my fingers back on that keyboard and continue! Hopefully she'll settle back into her normal sleep pattern and I can have my full writing time back.

Challenge yourself! You can still get started.


What I'm Reading: Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Speaking of books written by men that I read for a specific topic: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath inspired me greatly last week. The examples they used to illustrate their points were fascinating, sometimes down right amazing. (Solving malnutrition problems in Vietnam or stopping abusive parents.) Their book is mentioned in the other most inspiring book I've read lately - The 12 Week Year. - which is how I found it.

Change can make you crazy whether you choose it or it chooses you. Books like Switch help you identify pieces of the puzzle that you might not have seen before. Taking the challenge from angles you never thought of. If you feel stymied, give this one a read, see if it makes you go "huh, never thought about looking at a problem from that direction." 

And be prepared to do the work!

 

PS Affiliate links above.


What I'm Reading: Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

I'm a reader. I love books. I love the smell and feel and look of them. I love libraries and bookshops and random bookshelves in other people's houses. My eye goes right to books and I can't help but peruse the shelf of them wherever I see them. 

Books come at me from various sources - magazines or newspapers or facebook groups or podcasts or radio shows. I don't remember where I heard about Washington Black but I knew I wanted to read it. I like history and the main character, a slave to start, then a free man, and how he makes his way in the world. It's not the standard story you expect at all. It takes place well before the American Civil War and includes hot air balloons, the arctic and aquariums. Unexpected all.

I'm also trying something new. Only reading books written by women. This is a pretty easy thing to do and why not? Men have dominated literature for eons, so why not just read women's work? This rule applies to all new books that I seek out. If I already own a book written by a man that I haven't read yet, then fine, I'll read it. Eventually. 

I have finished two books written by men recently. These were specific books whose exact material I wanted to read about. But majority of my book reading will be by women. Try it.

 

PS. Affiliate links included above.


Different Directions

I don't have a job at present. And by job I mean I'm not booked on a movie. But I am working my ass off.

My Menopodcast partner, Sarah, recently mentioned a book called The 12 Week Year. It sounded intriguing to imagine jamming a bunch of goals into 12 weeks instead of 12 months. I was curious (skeptical?) and had a free Audible.com credit so I got the audio book and started listening. 

And I'm in. 

I bought a hard copy so I could write notes, highlight sections, easily reread bits, and flip around for different sections. My key takeaways are to FOCUS ON ACTIONS, not results. Also to write everything out, build a schedule that works for me every day and STICK TO IT. There is an aspect of this plan that I love: Scoring. You have to score yourself each week-score yourself on tangible tactics and "to-dos" on the plan. 

You also have to stretch and sacrifice and be uncomfortable because that is what change requires. 

Some days it SUCKS. But one of the tips to get you back on track is to review your big vision. What do you want your life to look like in 3 years? I realized today I need to have that vision statement nearby my work desk so I don't forget what I'm working toward.

I'm in week 2 and have achieved a decent amount of my weekly goals set for week 1. I'm doing well so far here in week 2 (and yes, blogging is scheduled as it is part of a bigger goal.) 

I won't review my goals with you now. I would much rather review what I accomplished at the end of 12 weeks. And even if it's not 100% - even if it's only 65%? I will be proud. Proud because I started now and will have accomplished something. 

Stay tuned for the review of my first 12 week year. Coincidentally it ends on December 29.

Give it a shot! 

 

 

 

Note: My links (and/or images) often connect you with Amazon Affiliates products. I write about things I love and use. I don't get compensated to write about them. (I'll tell you if I do.) However, if you do decide to click through and end up buy something, I'll get a little bit from that sale.

 


Reading Little House To Harper

On our road trip to Santa Cruz a few weeks ago, I prepared with audio books. Last year we drove to Sequoia and listened to music (Hamilton was big then) as well as short stories from a kid's story podcast. We also had that awesome Star Wars recording from the 70's: The Story of Star Wars. Harper loves that, but it's only an hour long. As she is older and as it was going to be a longer trip, I thought why not Little House? 

I downloaded Little House In The Big Woods and Little House On the Prairie. We listened to the first one all the way up and Harper seemed to like it. I asked her what her favorite parts were and she said, "When they were telling the stories" which means when Pa is telling stories about his own childhood and adventures. We started listening to LHOTP on the way home, but only got a few chapters in as we chose music and other stuff on that drive. So, I started reading the rest of the book to Harper at bedtime, two chapters a night.  Little-house-on-the-prairie-book-cover

Last night we got to the end and I was a MESS. 

First I have to remind you that I am a HUGE fan of these books. Been reading them as long as I can remember. In fact, these two books (LH in the Big Woods and LH on the Prairie) are the first books I remember owning and going to the bookstore with my mom to get the next book was SO EXCITING. (Only rivaled by a more recent me opening my front door to receive the latest Harry Potter via Amazon on release day.) I read the LH books to this day, just for fun. I have bought many other books about these books. I love these books. I know useless details, not unlike this woman here, who is my LH twin.

BUT.

When you read them out loud, to your five year old -- It gets different. I knew there would be issues with the way the Indians are portrayed and the way they are talked about in LHOTP but DAMN. So after a few pages of "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" chit chat, I stopped to tell Harper about how people were wrong about a lot of things a long time ago. And that this book was written a long time ago and how they talk about Native Americans is wrong. And that people know better today. (Well, I didn't tell her the whole truth about racism still existing, as she'll learn that soon enough.) I brought it up again in later chapters about the "Indian War Cry" and she nodded as I reminded her about how wrong they were about the whole notion of who the Osage were. 

As the book ends, the family has to leave as they had accidentally strayed into "Indian Territory" by 3 miles and soldiers would come and move them out. Pa just packs the wagon and they are off. They had built a house and a stable and bought and planted seeds for a corn field, potatoes and other veggies. And they just left it all. Then they say goodbye to their neighbors, one of them being Mr. Edwards, and they roll on west. 

Me being the emotional sort and also enjoying the roller coaster of emotions that is menopause, I was crying as I read the end. Harper seemed unfazed by my crying - clearly she's used to me. It's not the first time I've cried while reading her bedtime stories. There is one written by a jewish woman telling the story about a quilt made and handed down through her family. And the one about the guy who walked the tightrope between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The book ends with "the towers are gone now..." 

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Anyway, I'm a cryer.

Last night as I put the book away and tucked Harper in, I thought ahead to the next books, excited to read them aloud. Farmer Boy is next and I like that one for a change of pace. Then Plum Creek. All good. Then I thought about Silver Lake and almost started crying right then. Silver Lake starts with (spoiler alert) Mary going blind and Jack the trusted dog DYING! I remember SOBBING when I very first read it as a kid. Man, that was brutal. It still makes me cry.

This is all a dream come true, tears or no tears. And I'm not going to force it. I hope hope hope that we keep reading these, that Harper reads them on her own as well and that she'll say "YES!" when I ask if she wants to go to Pepin Wisconsin or DeSmet South Dakota. For now, I'll keep the kleenex handy.