Thursday, October 29, 2015

My life as a reader

Anatomy of a Kindle Owner from Written Word Media
Anatomy of a Kindle Owner from Written Word Media
I came across this cool infographic and it got me thinking about my life as a reader.  Although I do quite a bit of reading on my Kindle, I do not exclusively read ebooks; I alternate my reading between hardback, paperback and ebooks on my Kindle. 

I would describe my reading choices as eclectic – there does not seem to be any distinct patterns.  I do spend quite a bit of time reading indie published books from fellow aspiring authors, and I try to maintain a balance between those books and the other books that I choose. 

I also make every effort to read my book club selection each month.  My book club group likes to pick challenging books, but they are almost always worth the effort.  Some of the books we read last year included Pulitzer prize winning All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica, Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng, The Perfume Collector by Cathlene Deotoere and Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  I don't love all of the books, but my book club has pushed me to expand my reading choices.

I love historical fiction, so I almost always include at least one historical book each month.  Lately I have been trying to focus on fiction set during World War I and World War II specifically to help build background for some of the novels I am working on, either writing or in the planning stages. I find it very helpful to see how other authors weave historical facts into their stories.  

Like many people, I have stacks of books on my “to-read” pile.  There are so many wonderful books that I just haven’t gotten to yet. Despite this fact, just like the info graphic says, I continue to download new books every month.  At this point - even if I did nothing but read for the next year, I'm not sure I could finish all the books in my house and on my Kindle right now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


My daughter surprised me recently at her wedding.  While getting dressed, she came over and showed me what jewelry she was wearing.  She had chosen to wear my Great-Grandmother’s cameo and a beautiful cameo ring that had belonged to my mother.  Not surprisingly I became tearful, realizing the significance of my daughter including such important mementos of our past into a day that was all about celebrating her future. 

My mother passed away a few years ago, and although I miss her terribly, I know how happy Mom would have been to be there, watching her beautiful redhead granddaughter getting married.  As I looked at Mom’s cameo ring on Rachael's finger, I remember when Mom bought it, and I remember her telling me that she would like Rachael to have it some day.  I thought about how happy Mom would be to see Rachael looking so beautiful, and wearing that ring. It was such a lovely wedding, and my daughter glowed with happiness, as any bride should.  I know that Mom was there with us. 

As I thought about that cameo, I thought about my great-grandmother who brought it with her from Europe when she was a young girl.  The cameo has such a special history; how it had been passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandma then to my mother and then to me, eventually it found its way to Rachael. 

Including the cameo was such a special connection to the women in my family, my fiercely independent mother, my courageous and kind Grandma, and my Great-grandmother who emigrated here so long ago.  Each of these women were the inspiration for my short story TheLocket.  They are each a special part of my history, and there was something so incredible seeing their legacy continue on through my amazing daughter.  Rachael got to wear the jewelry of her namesake, cementing her place in a long  line of woman who I admire. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

NoNoWriMo 2.0

I have made a commitment to myself to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year.  For anyone who’s unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month is an online program to encourage writers to draft 50,000 words of a new novel within the month of November.  It is a voluntary program and individuals choose to participate for lots of reasons, but mostly they choose to participate for the added support and camaraderie in order to get a first draft completed.  Individuals ‘win’ at NaNoWriMo if they manage to complete their 50,000 words during November. 

I participated for the first time ever last year and it was hard, but I can proudly say I did manage to eek out my 50,000+ words.  It is important to understand that this is only a very ROUGH first draft, the novel I started last year is still not completed, but it is much further along than it would have been without NaNo. 

Although it may not work for every writer, the encouragement to write every day and the structure that NaNo provides is actually helpful to me.  I am officially signed up to participate again this year, and I have chosen to work on a very special young adult historical fiction book about an explosion in the Halifax harbor during World War I.  I did come up with a very temporary cover to help with my inspiration.  I will get a cover professionally designed once the story is written. 

NaNo is not easy; it takes a big commitment.  Writers must complete an average of 1600 words per day to keep on track.  Last year I made myself a NaNo calendar to help me track my progress.  Once again, I will be sharing limited blog posts in November, and I won’t be doing a great deal of reading either – I really want to commit to this writing goal.  Writing fiction is incredibly difficult and I really hope that I can be successful.  Even if I reach my goal of a first draft by the end of November, that is only the first step – next will come the editing and cover design and more editing…but getting that first draft written will be amazing – so wish me luck, and please don’t be mad if you don’t hear very much from me during November.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hey Marty - It's the future, where is my hover board?

 If you are like me, you watched Back to the Future when you were younger.  This incredibly popular trilogy followed the adventures of Marty McFly and his lovable mentor Doc, who manages to create a time machine.  These movies had everything, adventure, humor, a bumbling nasty bad guy and of course a love interest, but it also had some really fun ideas and cool special effects (at that time they were cutting edge).
In the second movie Marty returns with the Doc to October 21, 2015 and Marty uses a cool hover board to escape from Biff.  Back in the eighties when these movies came out, we all wanted our own hover boards.
Well Its October 2015, so I want to know, where is my hover board?  Fans of the Chicago Cubs are ecstatic that Marti's prediction about the Cubbies winning the world series could actually come true, just like in the movie.  And where are all the other cools things that the writers imagined about the future, back in the 1980’s.  If you haven’t watched back to the future – do yourself a favor and rent all 3 movies.  They are corny and silly and a whole lot of fun, but beware – you will want your hover board too.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Tale of Two Sisters

My oldest daughter recently got married and I had the chance to watch my two daughters together.  They have the most beautiful and the most frustrating relationship I have ever seen. 

They love each other very much and they seem to understand each other on a level that borders on precognition, but they also have the ability to push each other’s buttons faster than the speed of light. 

It is always eventful when they get together. I have watched as their relationship has grown and changed over the years.  I have often had to play the role of referee, but I have also witnessed them fiercely defending each other. 

Their turbulent relationship makes me think about my own sisters, and they way we have grown and changed over the years.  It’s harder to stay connected as we get older.  Our families, our children, and even grandchildren become the focus of our lives, and time to spend with siblings gets harder and harder to accomplish. 

I have had my own struggles with my sisters over the years as well.  Being the youngest I wasn’t always treated with kindness and respect.  Many of the issues that we dealt with as children seem to return in our adult relationships. The older ‘bossy’ sister, the middle ‘rebel’ sister and of course my role as the ‘spoiled baby’.  We have all changed a great deal over the years, yet some of these nuances still linger.  We unconsciously assign roles to one another, and we have shared hard feelings on occasion.  I don’t always agree with the choices that my sisters make. 
As an adult, I have found it easier to understand our complicated relationship.  There are times when the voices of the past creep into current situations. I have to remind myself that we are grown now; although there are times I wish I could run and tattle to my mom once more. 

For some reason my relationships with my brothers is much less complicated.  Even though they are very different personalities, I easily get along well with each of them.

Sisters are just more complicated, but no matter how frustrating our relationship can be at times, I know that my sisters love me and will always be there for me, just as I will always be there for them.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Write it down

Simplify Your Life Series - Part 4 Write it down

My memory is NOT what it used to be – so I rely on lists to keep me on track. Having a list helps to simplify my life, and keeps me from forgetting important things – so there is a lot less rushing around last minute.  Neuroscientists have studied the brain, and they agree that writing things down is a good idea.  Our brains can effectively hold about 4 things at any one time. 

We have a big white board in our family room.  It is perfect for writing down reminders (grocery lists, appointments for the week, etc.) We also have a small white board attached to the front of our fridge that we use for a running grocery list; as we use up items they are added to the list.

It is important to make a realistic “to-do” list with the most important tasks that need to be completed. Don’t feel that you need to write absolutely everything on your list, doing the dishes and laundry is a given, write down the items that are a priority and the items that you might forget without a prompt.  I find it extremely satisfying to cross items off my list – some days I am lucky if I get even one item done, but having a list keeps me on track. 
I love to use the task list feature on my phone to create a to-do list.  I love how it automatically synchs with my laptop, to help keep me organized.  Using our technology to write down tasks as we think of them, and to add appointments to our calendars can help to simplify life.  At the doctor’s office, I always enter appointments into my phone right away; no more little appointment cards that might get lost.  Sticking to one calendar avoids confusion, and with a calendar that automatically synchs with my phone and laptop, nothing gets missed. 

One final thing to write down is a list of all your passwords.  Even though my Mac auto fills passwords for me, I keep a small notebook with all of my passwords, not only for my benefit but if for any reason my husband needs my passwords, they will be available.  I consider this little notebook as insurance. 

Previous posts in the ‘Simplifying your life’ series have included issues of Cleaning out the Clutter, Saying No, and Simplifying your Technology.