Slowing Down to Make Progress

We’re getting our share of the polar vortex this week, apparently. Though it’s not nearly as bad as the midwest got last week – more like normal “winter” here. So, while I’m not enjoying it (or having two restless dogs stuck inside for a good week), I’m doing my best not to complain too much. It’s a good thing I have extra eye drops at home. Nothing beats sub-zero temps with even colder wind chills to make your eyes water and then dry out even worse than normal while thawing. Ugh.

I’ve talked a lot about financial and routine changes lately, and something that is benefiting from the routine changes is writing. I’ve been a lot more disciplined lately (in a lot of things), and that has had the very good side effect of doing late-night chores a bit earlier, and getting back to my office earlier as a result.

Also, given the lack of ability to just “buy stuff” when I want to in order to do/learn/organize things, my mind tends to be more focused on the here and now, rather than what’s happening (or what I think should happen) in the future. I still plan, and still look ahead, but there’s less immediacy to it, if that makes sense (because anything that requires a purchase of some sort is not happening “right now” or even “next week” anymore…there’s a waiting period for everything).

Ironically enough, while I’m more conscientious about money and spending, I’m less concerned about…well, pretty much everything else. When forced to wait and/or plan far ahead for nearly everything, it actually removes a source of mental stress – there’s no point in worrying about or planning for something that isn’t happening anytime soon.

And that leaves me with more mental energy & head space to spend on other pursuits.

Like writing.

It still takes me a little while to get into a story when I sit down most nights, but that’s okay, because I’m sitting down earlier. I’m using my Neo, which isn’t optimal due to the darkish screen, but it’s easy on the eyes and the keyboard is a million times better than the one on my laptop. Not being on the laptop also keeps me away from distractions, though I do need to remember to upload my writing to the laptop once a week (which I keep forgetting to do). Luckily, the Neo does hold quite a bit of writing, so I won’t run out of space anytime soon. But keeping scenes and chapters organized is easier in my writing software.

One of my “indiscretions” back in November was to pre-order the Freewrite Traveler (I’ll be done paying for that this month), which is basically the modern version of my Alphasmart Neo. The screen is e-ink and not backlit, and the keyboard is manual with Cherry MX switches. It won’t ship until this summer, but I’m looking forward to it both for the lighter e-ink screen that I’ll be able to see better in my dim office, and also for the fact that it will connect to wifi and upload my writing sessions automatically (the Neo requires an old printer-to-usb cable connection, and acts as a keyboard emulator).

Until then, the Neo works just fine, and I’m really glad to have it. I don’t think I’d be nearly as productive working on my laptop and fighting the constant cursor jumps due to the too-flexible case (not to mention the crappy keyboard).

I am going to have to work on my computer set-up, but not until I get my longevity bonus this spring (May). Hopefully I’ll have at least one draft done and ready to format and cover by then. Whether I do or not will probably determine how much I’m willing to spend to upgrade my set-up. So, we’ll see. Lots of potential writing time between now and then.

I think my next feat needs to be finding some time in which I can edit, format, and create cover art for books. Time that isn’t normal writing time and also doesn’t require more screen time on weeknights, which means a few hours on the weekend, preferably.

I have a few ideas, and a book that needs reformatting (not to mention several that need new covers). If I could get the one book done by the end of February, I’d be happy with both the progress, and having a new time slot mapped out for that kind of work.

And that would be great progress.

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Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week 2 Poems

Our National Poetry Month challenge continues…don’t forget to check out Carol’s poems too!

This week, I tried to be more descriptive. Description is my personal writing “unicorn”, if you will. I’m not good at it for several reasons I’ll discuss once I figure out how to do so, but in the meantime, I’m working on it. These are definitely more descriptive, but some of them are still pretty rough around the edges. Not too bad though, methinks…

Saturday, 4/8: Spring Fever (also featured on the BSB blog – a prompt story)

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

Sunday, 4/9: Bookkeeping (because…taxes)

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

Monday, 4/10: Morning Noise

It’s so loud —
the six am meeting of the
finely feathered & famished.

Like old friends,
they greet each other with
soulful salutations & song.

The sun rises
and the joyous treetop choir
summons the sleeping to stir.

But…it’s so loud!

Tuesday, 4/11: Lost It

It’s gone.
I don’t know where or how or when,
but it was here, and now it’s not.
I can’t believe I lost it.

I seek.
At home, at work, the car, the bed,
it simply vanished, so it seems.
I don’t know what to do.

I pine.
It was so lovely, useful, perfect.
Not sure what I’ll do without it.
But I must move on.

I buy.
It will be shiny, new, and updated.
This one as perfect as the last.
Maybe even better.

Wednesday 4/12: The Dentist (because…fillings)

It starts with a “pinch”
to numb out the pain.
A brief, quiet wait
until no feeling remains.

The man in white comes
blue mask and gloves donned.
I try to relax,
put my best game-face on.

The drill starts to whine,
burnt enamel fills my nose,
my fingers clench tight,
water & suction whoosh through a hose.

Above me four eyes,
quarters are tight,
gloved fingers, small tools
and that big too-bright light.

My tongue tries to hide
from the chemical tastes,
and the bite of a tool
weilded in haste.

All eventually ends
and my head spins to adjust
when they tip the chair upright
and wipe off the dust.

A necessary evil
this nightmare routine
but it happens less often
with good dental hygiene!

Thursday, 4/13: Daydreams

A wisp of wind swirls through newly born leaves,
green grass swishes softly in a warm summer breeze.

Air fresh and sweet caresses her skin,
she closes her eyes as the daydreams begin.

The hammock sways gently ‘tween two big birch trees,
the afternoon’s quiet save the low hum of bees.

Restless, she shifts, dreams of her paramour.
Does he dream of her too, the one she longs for?

Her heartbeat is loud, her adrenaline flows,
the mere thought of his touch makes her tingle and glow.

It’s all in her head, a fairy-tale ode,
another time, another life, another untaken road.

She opens her eyes, watches shadows diffuse,
waits for the stars to wish for her muse.

Friday, 4/14: A Bad Day

The alarm was off and so was I,
that long and fateful day.
It’s been awhile, so I can scoff,
but things were really gray.

Late to wake and late to work,
nary a sunshiny ray.
A server was down, tempers were up,
and many a nerve set to fray.

Car broke down and dog got sick,
the money drained away.
Dinner was burnt, rain came down,
and left no chance to play.

TV was awful and so was the news,
all touting political sway.
Too fried to write, to tired to read,
but sleep was respite from the grey.

Thanks for reading…feel free to share your own poems below. And stop back next Saturday for another week’s worth of poetry!

Reminder –

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This & That

There’s been a lot going on in my head recently, so focus is not exactly my strong suit at the moment. It’ll pass, it always does. But for now, a smattering of what’s occupying my mind for the dangerously curious (or insomniacs) among you:

– My new Pebble smartwatch works great for telling time, getting notifications without having to look at my cell, and alarms when I’m already awake. It does not, however, work well for waking me up. Dang it. It did work twice last week, and I think part of the problem is that I sleep on my right side, and unlike most right-handed people, I also wear my watch on my right wrist. Which means the vibrations are probably absorbed by my comfy mattress…

So I shall try wearing the watch on my left arm tonight (which will probably keep me awake, ironically enough). I ordered a metal band too – which I think will conduct the vibrations rather than absorbing them like leather does. We’ll see. Luckily, my cell has been working fine and not waking my husband up too badly in the mornings, so there’s that.

– Hubby and I need to get our eating under control again (can you say “proper portion sizes”?), so I really do need to get some menu planning and calorie-tracking going again this week. I know once I get into that mindset it won’t be a big deal, but it really is time & energy consuming when getting everything set up. It would be great if there was a tool/app out there that would allow me to track us *both* without two different accounts, but so far, I haven’t found one. If you know of one, I’d be grateful for the referral…

– A group of local authors/readers is starting up a Bookstore Co-op here in town (well, they started planning last spring), which I wasn’t terribly excited about until I heard that they hired a very experienced bookstore owner from another nearby town to come in and run the place, *and* move the tea bar from his bookstore here in a lessor capacity as well. You know I love books, and tea, and considering how successful the new manager was/is with his other bookstore, I’m excited now. He’s got a lot of plans to keep the place hopping, and I’m really interested to see how it all plays out. I’m planning to invest/buy stock in the venture, I’m just trying to decide how much. Yes, there are perks for both authors and tea-lovers depending on investment level…and I get my longevity check this week. Exciting!

– My to-do list for the yard and gardens is about a mile longer than the time I have/will have available this summer, so making priorities on that is difficult.

– I stayed up way too late last night listening to/buying music. I generally prefer to buy the album on CD if I want at least a couple of songs, to support the artist and so I have a hard copy if anything happens to the digital copies. But three of the CD’s I bought last night came with auto-digital-downloads, so of course I downloaded them, and had to listen to a few songs here and there, and make some new playlists, and…well, I would have been better off just writing this blog post and getting to bed. For the curious, I bought new albums by Rob Zombie, 3 Doors Down, Disturbed, Shinedown, and Theory of a Deadman. Good stuff.

– I’m itching for a new tattoo. You’d think the book I’m reading right now would discourage that, given that the villain is a tattoo artist who works in poison (The Skin Collector – Jeffery Deaver…slow in spots, but overall okay), but much to the contrary, I’m thinking it’s time to see if the guy who does my tattoos wants to tackle one of the designs that’s been stewing in my brain for awhile now. I’m sure he’s getting busy now (’tis refund time), but I might see if he has some time for a small one if he can’t fit the larger one in…

I have a tattoo shop mystery series waiting to be read too (courtesy of my sister who read them first).

– Lots of work stuff (nothing bad, just problems to solve & code to write), that will remain vague just because I feel like it should.

– There’s an art exhibit at the old state prison that I’d really like to see, but I don’t think I can leave the dogs overnight just yet. And the exhibit ends on June 30th. But maybe I’ll change my mind while there’s still time. We’ll see.

– I have three books I want to finish writing by the end of the year, two started, and I’m having a heck of a time getting back into a regular writing habit (though I did better last week, finally). Thing is, I really do want to write, and I enjoy it once I get into the groove, so to speak. But with so much else going on, it’s hard to sit and just…allow myself that simple pleasure. I’m working on it. I’m better when I’m writing, even if the writing goes nowhere.

So there you go – a peek between my ears, so to speak. With any luck, I’ll have some of this worked out by next week, and I can pick a topic to focus on!

Short & Sweet Placeholder

My weekend got away from me as they so often do when there’s a holiday of some sort involved, and now it’s late and I need to get to bed as soon as possible so I can get up for work in the morning. When I finally sat down to write this, I blanked (too tired to think – I’ve been running non-stop since this morning), and then I got distracted by the new song out by Justin Timberlake.

So here you go – something to put a little sunshine in your pocket this Monday morning. I’ll have a “real” post up after work tonight.

I hope your Monday is enjoyable…or tolerable, at least!

Perspectives & Time

It’s late Sunday night, but not terribly so as I sit here sipping a rather lovely oolong tea from a frog-adorned teacup. I’m waiting for Lucy’s dog food to finish “marinating” on the counter so I can go to bed, which makes this just like pretty much any other late night for the past 5 years or so.

I’m tired from a flurry of activity this weekend – our county fair started Friday, and my husband and I went to concerts both Friday and Saturday nights, plus did some shopping on Saturday. By the time we hit Sunday, we were both running on fumes and had pretty much zero motivation or energy left.

I keep thinking “It’s not that we’re old…” but the fact is, we are, comparatively speaking. When I was young, I practically lived at the fairgrounds during this week every year. I had a zillion 4-H projects on exhibit, and a couple of years I even exhibited small animals (rabbits). I went to every concert and night show I could with my work schedule, all three nights of rodeo, horse racing and bingo with my grandparents, and ate enough food sold along the midway to fuel my teen acne for months. My 4-H exhibitor status got me fair tickets for all seven days, so I spent quite a few afternoons there as well, when I wasn’t at work, anyways. After the night shows, it was time to trawl the midway and ride the rides, looking as good as teen girls can just in case we could catch the eye of a cute cowboy somewhere along the way.

Yes, I wore Wranglers and Ropers and crisp button down shirts back then. With a leather belt hand-tooled by my grandfather and a buckle with my initials on it. Giddy-up! Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but I still know all the words to “Fishin’ in the Dark” by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band…

The year I broke my arm, I had the cast put on a week or so before the fair started. And of course having a cast didn’t stop me – I popped some tylenol and rode all the rides, including the Gravitron, which spun around in circles until you were going so fast that the wall panel you were leaning against rose up to the ceiling. I’m fairly sure that ride helped realign the broken bones in my hand and wrist that year.

Now here we are, sitting at 40 and 51 respectively, and two concerts in a row is enough to knock us both back a day’s worth of energy. Not to mention the toll that eating concession food takes on the skin and body. I was all too happy to make a big salad for dinner tonight. I need my fiber, after all (or my gallbladder does, anyways).

I watch the crowds at those concerts, and the youngsters that look too young to be running around on their own (even though they’re certainly not), and I think of the people who are always wistfully saying they want to go back to that time when they were kids, and had all that energy and optimism for the future.

But I’m not one of those. I had a decent childhood, don’t get me wrong – nothing terribly traumatic or unbearable happened to me, but I’ve always been an “old soul”, and while I enjoyed my teen years well enough, I wasn’t ever really “present” in them. I was always looking to the future, wanting to hurry up and grow up so I could get on with life without the barriers of youth in my way. Even in college I identified more with the non-traditional students than my own peer group (probably because I was working every minute I wasn’t in class), so again, while I enjoyed my time in college, I have no desire to revisit it.

Getting my first real job (the job I have now, incidentally) and buying my first house (both events happened on the same day, which made that one of the absolute best days of my life) was the first time I finally felt like I was living in the present. Like I could slow down and just enjoy life as it came, instead of constantly looking toward the future. I had…arrived, I guess. And it’s been good ever since, despite the ups and downs we all have to weather sometimes.

I’m happy to be where I’m at, I guess is my point. It’s been a hard year this year, and I think we’ve still got more storms to weather before things clear up for a bit, but I’d still rather be 40 and dealing with adult problems than 18 all over again.

And now, the clock just struck midnight (literally), and due to some changes going on at work, I have to be there an hour early on Mondays starting tomorrow (today?). So a little extra sleep would be good, methinks.

If you’re feeling chatty…tell me – are you one of those people who’d like to go back and relive high-school/college again? Or are you just as happy to be an adult and enjoying life as it is now?

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On Discomfort, Journeys, & Authorship…

This post being late? Side effect of both summer (wherein there’s too much to do outside to get everything done inside too) and high temps coupled with our A/C being out. Basically, I’ve been spoiled by central air for the last 10 years, and sort of shut down when it gets too hot until we can get the house cooled down again. Repair guy’s coming June 18th…it’s gonna be a long week!

Gotta remember my eye drops tonight too. All the extra time outside is making things a bit blurry… *memo to self*

I’ve been thinking a lot again lately (too much time in my head), and last week, I read a couple of blog posts that did a great job not only of distilling the gist of what I’d been pondering, but also raised some great points and a few important questions as well.

The first one is titled False Summits by Hugh Howey. The basic premise is not to wait for things, not to let yourself become stagnant, and to always be confronting things that are uncomfortable (baby steps) as a way to keep learning and growing and *doing*. Hugh is the same age I am, and he’s done an incredible amount of moving around and had some amazing experiences all because he refused to let himself get too comfortable in any one place or or situation (go read the post – it’s okay, I’ll wait).

Good stuff, eh? Now, my personality is such that the life that Hugh has chosen would have put me in the looney bin in short order (for anyone new who might be reading, I’m a 100% introverted INTJ with an almost obsessive need for daily routines in order to stay sane). But, I completely agree with the philosophy behind his choices – keep pushing that comfort zone, and don’t let yourself stagnate, because it is *so* incredibly easy to do just that. For some of us, that means changing jobs and/or cities, traveling to lots of places and just generally keeping moving to avoid getting too comfortable.

For others of us, it’s smaller things. Last year, one of my resolutions was to do something social every month, and I did, and it was more fun than I thought. I experienced new things and people and environments, and it was a good way to remind myself that I actually can handle “people”, at least every once in awhile. I also learned that I can get a little too carried away with the social thing as well, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story that really requires more alcohol…

This year, I’ve been slacking on that (and everything social, online & off), but there have been some changes at work that required a lot of mental/emotional energy, and I only have so much of that to go around. So I’ve been pretty high on the introverted scale, not even really interacting much on social media, but rather trying to conserve/recharge my energy for whatever comes next. And there are more changes on the horizon – I’m in a lull (mentally speaking) at the moment, but it could come at any time.

Still, I’m stretching, reaching, pushing my brain through those uncomfortable things and dealing with them as I can. The industry I’m in is nice, because I don’t have to change jobs to be mentally stimulated – there is always some new technology, new programming language to learn. More than enough stuff I don’t know to keep my brain engaged for many years to come.

This summer, there are a bunch of social/community things going on, and the next two Saturday’s I’ll be out and about with hubby. More people, more experiences, more missed chances to be at home writing and working on the business of publishing books… (*sigh*). But, it’s good for me to get out and remember that “life” exists outside my personal little bubble, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

Another way I keep from growing stagnant is by having many interests. I have several hobbies, all of which I wish I could devote more time to, and all of which are challenging mentally, physically or both. I love them, and I want to spend more time doing/learning/growing, but there’s a downside to that, which leads me to the second post that sort of said basically what I was thinking this week:

Lessons from #life drawing #6 by Toby Neal. Toby’s taking art classes, and in this latest installment about the growth she’s experiencing as a result, she wonders if she can ever do anything “just as a hobby”, or if there has to be a purpose behind it. Whether or not she can ever be happy with mediocrity and just enjoy something for the journey itself, rather than constantly focusing on the end point.

Unlike Toby, I have no problem with that particular issue in most cases. However, my writing is a different story (so to speak). And while I’ll never quit writing, and I’ll never quit striving to be better, I also am limited by the fact of my humanity as far as how many things I can pursue at once, even at a hobby-type level.

The fact is, while I have the drive to keep writing and keep constantly enjoying the journey of discovery that goes with that, I really don’t have what it takes to be an “Author”, like Toby and Hugh. They both work incredibly hard not only to write the best books they can, but also to get the word out about those books, and to connect with fans and people in general. I don’t know Hugh, but I “know” Toby a little, and I know they both have a serious drive not only to bring their stories alive on the page, but also to make sure those stories have the best chance possible at getting out into the world.

I thought I had that drive once, but I really don’t. And before any of you try to come to my emotional rescue, I’m okay with that. The thing I’ve been working through in my head, is that while I have always and will always have the drive to write and share what I write with others, I have zero interest whatsoever in doing much of the work required for actually making money from my writing. I like having it as a side-business, and I have marketing obligations I intend to meet, and I will do a certain level of connecting, but I have no desire whatsoever to ever do a book-signing, or a conference, or a launch party, or vlogging, or…well, any of the actual “work” involved in selling books and being a successful Author. I also have no desire to make a bestseller list or be recognized in any way as an Author. I’d love it if people would eventually talk about my books, but leave me happily in the background writing the next one.

It’s the act of writing that satisfies me – the first draft, where I dig in to a story and discover what it is. I also get a certain amount of satisfaction in working to make my books better for those who might read them…because storytelling is a skill, and one I’d like to get better at. I do want to entertain people, but with my words, not my oh-so-sparkling personality.

It’s a hard view to take, surrounded by writers who all want fortune (or at least to make a living) and fame (or at least one bestseller list). Everyone’s always talking about how to market your books, how to write the best blurbs and design the best covers. How to get the most reviews. It’s easy to get caught up in all of that, and to start thinking that’s the important part – the part where we sell our work and convince people to read it.

And I’m sitting there thinking to myself, I hate this, I’d rather be writing. I have a good job, I don’t need the money, and there’s absolutely no reason to push myself to do something (selling books) when I really have no drive to do in the first place. I thought I wanted to be a full-time writer at one point, and eventually, when I retire from my job, I will be (because I can’t see myself ever actually retiring…). But for now, all that time I “should” be spending marketing? That’s not just time away from writing, but time away from the other hobbies I love and learn from as well.

Yes, I’m aware that plenty of people do both. I don’t have the drive to do what they do. And I’m learning to be okay with that, at least for now.

Toby’s post asking the question about whether she could ever be okay with mediocrity struck a chord because by basically doing the absolute minimum where sales are concerned, I’m settling for a mediocre writing “experience” – and it is a bit unsettling to actually do that when it seems like every other writer out there is dreaming of turning their hobby into a career, and most writing conversation revolves around that very thing.

I still don’t know exactly where that line is for me, and as I mentioned, I have obligations to meet, so there is that.

Deep thoughts for a hot summer week, eh?


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On Short Weeks, “This City”, & Wet Socks…

Monday was a holiday here in the states for many of us, or a day of remembering, in any case. There were still plenty of people who had to work, but I was off, thus my laziness in getting this post up and out.

I actually don’t care much for four-day work weeks, to be honest. Everything just seems that much more…immediate, which means the whole week feels hectic and strained. If they were the “norm”, then I’m sure we’d all adjust and having three days off every week would be really nice (though with IT, there’s always a chance of having to work – nature of the 24/7 beast). But since our current norm is a 5-day week, the shortened ones just feel to crammed with stuff. To me, anyways.

Tomorrow will be a short day for me too, because I have two hours in the dentist chair to look forward to at the end of the day. I need to leave work by 3:30pm, and then I’ll be in the chair from 4-6pm while the dentist preps two of my teeth for crowns. I know, I know. The excitement just never stops with my teeth…

Good winter TV finally ran out, and we’ve been watching Daredevil on Netflix – actually, we just finished the first season. It was good…dark and bloody, but exactly the kind of hero I like who’s constantly wrestling with that line between good and evil, and occasionally stepping over it out of necessity. I like Arrow for the same reason, and The Flash for different reasons entirely, but there’s one thing that absolutely drives me *nuts* about these shows, and it’s kind of a trademark thing.

The phrase “this city” just bugs the crap out of me every time I hear a hero or villain utter it (and yes, all three of the aforementioned shows are guilty).

I think it’s because it’s overused. It’s such a constant thing that I just get tired of hearing it. It sounds cheesy and limiting and just…too narrow-minded for a person with such weighty philosophical concerns and that requisite hero…uh…complex.

Or it could just be that it’s horribly overused and I get tired of hearing it spoken in what seems like every other line. I feel like I’m getting beaten over the head with the mantra…it’s wearisome.

In other news, I finished my first knitted sock this week, and I’m pretty proud of it. I need to figure out how to make the ribbing tighter, and I could use a little work with the closing, but other than that, I’m very happy with how it turned out, and looking forward to making a second to match.

And then I need to remember to take my nice, hand-knitted socks off when I venture out into the kitchen. My dogs cannot seem to keep the water in their bowls contained to either the bowl or their mouths. It’s crazy how much of a swimming pool the kitchen floor is near their bowls, and that happens to be the main thoroughfare to the back door and into the rest of the kitchen. Since I often wear socks in the house (it has to be incredibly warm for me not to), this means I generally have damp socks on my feet throughout the evening.

I changed socks twice tonight just because I was sick of them being wet, and then one of the dogs needed out again not five minutes after the first change.

Yes, I should get some good slippers, which would solve that problem. One of these days, I might even actually do that…

Here’s hoping the short week treats you well…or at least somewhat gently!

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On Laptops, Orphan Black, & Stuff…


This past Friday, I got my longevity check. Saturday, I went shopping. Long story short, I’m typing this on my brand new HP Spectre 360 laptop. It’s a 2-in-1/convertible model, so the screen will fold all the way back into tablet mode if I chose, or it works just like a regular laptop as well. The only thing that’s slightly concerning is that due to the hinge system, there’s a bit of screen wobble when I really get to typing away on it. But it’s not all that bad, and considering I have to stop and think more often than I’d like, it should be okay.

The other thing about this particular laptop that I’ll have to get used to is the backspace and enter keys are wide, but they don’t register if you just hit them on the side, so I’ll have to adjust my reach a bit. That’ll come with time (and errors, in the case of the backspace key, which I’m already hitting with far more accuracy just after these two paragraphs).

Old vs. New

Old vs. New

The key caps are metal like the rest of the chassis though, which I think will be good, considering the wear and tear I tend to put on keyboards. My old keyboard is pretty much on its last legs, as you can see. The new keyboard is backlit too, which isn’t something I really need as a touch typist, but it’s cool nonetheless. The keyboard is comfortable enough to type on…it’s a little more shallow than I’m used to, but considering how much I type, I dare say I’ll adjust quickly.

This laptop has Windows 8.1 on it, which really is just an amalgamation of Win 7 and an Android OS. It was a bit confusing at first, but after a couple days of use and customizing, I actually really like the tiled start page, and it’ll be especially handy in tablet mode. I’ll grab Win. 10 once it’s available.

As you can see from the photo, this machine is a bit smaller than my old one. I’ll need an external CD/DVD drive, but those aren’t too expensive. At 13 inches and seriously thin, this laptop is actually portable, which is something I really wanted in my next computer. Because being able to haul it around with me on a near-daily basis means I can write anywhere, anytime I have time. It’s also got a solid state drive, so it boots fast. No long waits to get working, which is nice.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with it so far. I’ve got all my files copied over, and I just need to install a few more programs and make a few more connections before I’m finally finished “moving” my digital life from one house to the other. It’s a lot of work, I tell you what. But that’s also one of the nice things about the writing program I’m beta testing. Just install the program, sign in, and voila! All your stuff right there and ready to be stored back in the database. Not that my Scrivener files were all that difficult to move.

In any case, that was most of my weekend – moving files and installing programs. The other thing we did this weekend was start and nearly finish Season Two of Orphan Black. That show is genius, really, and incredibly intense. The lead actress is simply amazing to play all those different parts at once, and so well! It’s one of the few shows that grabs my attention so completely that I really can’t do anything while I’m watching it. Excellent show, in my opinion.

This week should be a bit quieter than things have been lately, and my husband will be out of town for three days too. So I plan on getting a lot of writing in, as well as getting back to my knit and crochet projects. I thought for sure I’d have my sock done by now…alas, I didn’t get back to my knitting all week last week. Much more focus on relaxation this week, which will be very good for me, I think. Maybe I’ll even finally get a reading post up on Wednesday. Miracles do happen occasionally…

And with that, I’m off to bed. Happy(?) Monday!

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On Contests, Appliances & Trudging Along…

First, the good stuff (okay, it’s advertising, but indulge me for a few minutes, K?). You already know that the digital version of Flame & Stone is on sale all month for 99 cents. Everywhere. And you know that there are contests running on both Booklikes and Library Thing to win free copies. There was a quick contest last week to win an audiobook version on Booklikes, and that contest is over, but there’s another audiobook giveaway running on Library Thing, and that one’s open until Thursday (I’d link to it directly, but I’m not sure how – if you go search this month’s Audio giveaways at the link above, it’s pretty easy to find).


If you like Audiobooks, you may or may not be aware of a new email service called Audiobook Blast. It will send you announcements of free and sale-priced audiobooks once weekly, in whatever genres you choose, so go sign up! Flame & Stone will be listed there…tomorrow, so you could get a free audio copy there…

But wait! There’s more!

The print version is *finally* done and available now, and you can sign up to win one of 5 signed copies on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Flame & Stone by Jamie DeBree

Flame & Stone

by Jamie DeBree

Giveaway ends March 29, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Or, if you want to win a set of all three versions (print, digital and audio) plus some cool gargoyle-themed swag, simply sign up for my newsletter anytime between now and Sunday, March 29th. Current newsletter subscribers are already signed up, and if you join them, you too will have a change to win one of two F&S prize packages! Winners will be announced in the newsletter that will be sent out on March 30th, with a mention on the blog as well.

So there you go. A ton of different ways to get yourself a free or sale-priced copy, in a myriad of formats, but only for this month, so get it now!

In other news, my dishwasher is broken again, and our attempt to fix it this weekend was a failure (probably because what we tried to fix, and what is broken are two different things, but it was worth the try, I suppose). This is the third or fourth time we’ve pulled it out to work on it, so needless to say, I need a new dishwasher.

The plan was to go pick one up and install it this weekend (you know, since we’re so good at pulling it/reinstalling it now), but just before we were going to leave on Saturday, hubby got attacked (rather violently) with the flu. And he was down all weekend with that, poor guy.

Just to add insult to injury, my head cold got worse again on Sunday, and between the two of us, we had no motivation for anything, really. And my new eyeglass prescription got screwed up Friday (or rather, one of the new lenses is scratched badly), and the scratched lens is bothering my eye quite a bit (new lenses are ordered and should be here soon), which makes computer work…uncomfortable. So it’s been a long few days, and I’m honestly just as happy that the weekend is behind us. Aside from having to do dishes by hand all week. I’m sure I’ve mentioned just how much I love doing that (not).

So we’re trudging along over here, trying desperately to get well and stay well so we can take care of things like broken dishwashers, roofing estimates, basic household chores, and writing, which I am so far behind on it’s shameful.

But! There is always something positive to focus on, so let’s end on a positive note or several, shall we?

– Once we get a new dishwasher, I shouldn’t have issues with it for a good 2-3 years, at least.
– New lenses only take a couple of days, so I should be seeing better by Weds.
– I’m 9 days into this cold, and the average cold takes around 14 days to “beat”, so I’m over half-done with it.
– I’m making good progress on my first knitted sock
– We had pie for Pi Day this weekend. Pie is good.

Onward and (hopefully) upward!