Spring Fever

North Carolina decided to take a break from winter and spend a couple days pretending that it’s spring instead of mid-February. And as a result, I’ve gone into gardening mode. Like buying seeds and fighting the urge to buy potting soil and recognizing that the cold will kill anything I plant but wanting to start gardening anyway.

I’d hoped that going through photos of flowers and the garden from last summer would help take the edge off. And they have, somewhat.

How do you handle these unseasonably warm winter days? Do they leave you with a touch of spring fever?

Project Serial: First Draft

I’ve been working on the short story for what I’m dubbing Project Serial since the beginning of December, kind of sorta intending for it to be a serial and having in the back of my mind that I might one day post it on this blog. And I probably would still be tinkering on it with a few words here and a few words there until summer. But Project Serial gives me a deadline. More or less.

Apparently even a more or less deadline motivated me enough to get me to where I’m DONE with the first draft. Not DONE as in I’ve written The End; DONE in that I finally figured how I want the story to go and am ready to start revising so it starts looking like the one in my head.

Which is a good thing. It leaves me the position of having to throw out an entire plot-line; I’ll be able to reuse descriptions and hopefully a character. Focusing on only one plot gives me the opportunity to expand on the characters and hopefully make the whole thing scarier. I’m excited.

So what’s this story actually about? It’s a about teenage paranormal investigators and a cave with a creepy history. The placeholder title is Cedar Creek Cavern. I’m aiming to start posting  in June.

How do you feel about serial fiction? Are you a fan? Or do you prefer the opportunity to read the whole story at once?

A Successful Trip to B&N

I took a trip to Barnes & Noble the other day and walked out with three new books. This is an unusual occurrence for two reasons. First, because I tend to do all of my book-buying online (whether ordering paperbacks from B&N or Books-a-Million or snagging an eBook while it’s on sale). Second, because I rarely find books or authors that interest me (the YA section excluded).

I’m going to chock my success up checking the B&N website for whether the Maureen Johnson’s new book, The Vanishing Stair, was actually in stock at my local B&N. The other two books were just a bonus: I decided to grab a physical copy of Truly Devious for my re-read and there were autographed copies of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in stock.

How’s your luck with brick-and-mortar bookstores? Do you have a go-to bookstore or method of finding books?

January Reading Recap

The Goodreads Reading Challenge book-tracker-thingie says that I need to read 3 books a month to hit my 2019 goal of reading 35 books. I managed two, which I think was due to one being an eBook (that I could pick up anytime) and the other being a hardcover (that I could only read when I had the book with me (obviously)).

The first book I finished was Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn. It’s the second in the Lady Julia Gray series, featuring a Victorian widow and a brooding PI. Sanctuary gave me such Miss Fisher vibes and scratched that itch for a historical cozy mystery. I definitely recommend the series.

The other book was The Family Plot by Cherie Priest. I read this book around when it came out in summer 2017, but I’ve been feeling for some time that I rushed through that reading. So I picked it up again. It’s a slow-burn plot and then all of a sudden it isn’t. Part of me is thinking twice about my desire to buy and fix up an old house after this reread.

I started a third book this month: The Lost World by Michael Crichton. I’m about a third of the way through as of writing this post.

What books did you read in January? Anything that I should check out?

Permission to Write

This post is just as much for me as for anyone who needs it.

You have permission to write whatever your heart desires.

Write a teenage character that swears, an over-the-top gory death scene, an asshole character with no redeemable qualities. Write and finish a crap story instead of rewriting one sentence over and over with the goal of perfection.

Write the story that scares you most. Write the story that’s just above your skill set. Write the story that isn’t “in” right now. Write the story that you want to see on your bookshelf. Write the story that you want to read.

Writing is work, yes. And there are times when it will feel like work. Keep writing anyway because you’ll hit that breakthrough moment where all this work is worth it.

Keep writing. Write whatever you wan to write, even if it’s rough around the edges or all over. There’ll be time to sand those out in the next draft.

More COOL THINGs at Goodwill

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of shopping at my local Goodwill because I occasionally happen upon COOL THINGs. But luck was on my side this because I found COOL THINGs two Goodwill trips in a row. (I often go three or four trips before something catches my eye).

So who did I come across this time? Well, there was Tommy the Turtle Teapot with his friend, Fishy. Then I spotted the Kitty Triplets who toed the line between cute and creepy. And finally, I saw Mr. Miner chilling in his barrel of what looked like alcoholic Mountain Dew.

I’m curious. Have you found any COOL THINGs while out and about?

Project Quilt: Two Steps Forward & One Step Back

Quilting is like any other big project: you really should prepare before jumping in with both feet. That means buying and preparing the fabric, learning to use my sewing machine, figuring out the parts of a quilt and how to put one together. (And holy crap, putting together even a throw-size quilt is going to be a project and a half.)

Since this is my first quilt project ever, I decided not to spend a lot of money on fabric. A yard of fabric at a craft store is at least $7; meanwhile, I can pick up a set of three sheets for no more than $10 at Goodwill. And those three sheets will be more than enough for the majority of the quilt. I may need a couple pillowcases or another sheet eventually, but those are easy enough to pick up.

Learning how to assemble a quilt has been eye-opening. On some level, I recognized that quilting is a project. However the realization of having to cut HOW MANY squares and all the measuring and probably getting stabbed with LOTS of pins hit me hard. I’m still going to make this quilt. I’m actually glad that I know how much work will be involved, so I won’t become disheartened when I’m not making progress as quickly as I’d like.

Everything seemed to be progressing apace. I even pulled the sewing machine off the shelf in my closet, chiseled the Styrofoam off it, and poured over the instructions (which made close to no sense). A couple YouTube videos later, and I successfully threaded the needle and the bobbin. I even used it to sew a pair of rice-filled ice packs. Then I decided to make a pair of handkerchiefs. I pinned the seams in place rather than iron them flat, and the needle on the machine hit the head of a pin and that little plastic pinhead bent the needle. I’m still not even sure how plastic won i that battle.

I replaced the needle but couldn’t pick up the bobbin thread. So the sewing machine is sitting in my living room until I have the time to re-thread the machine with hopefully better thread tension (because I heard that might fix it?). Until I figure that out, this project isn’t exactly on hold. I can still measure and cut fabric squares; I can figure out how the pattern should look. The pause button has just been hit on assembling everything.

COOL THINGs at Goodwill

Goodwill has become my go-to-destination for crafty inspiration. Finding what I’m looking for is a gamble (compared to shopping at Michaels or JoAnn’s Fabric), but I occasionally hit the jackpot and find a COOL THING tucked behind vases or miscellaneous holiday stuff.

In the spirit of full disclosure, my definition of COOL THING is what other people consider CREEPY-A-F. There’s a certain endearing quality to COOL/CREEPY-A-F THINGs. And while space, budget, and a territorial COOL THING already on my shelf limit what comes home with me, I always keep my eye out.

Just this week, I saw a couple COOL THINGs in the holiday section. Mr. Frankie from Target almost came home with me. His ear-to-ear grin with baby vampire teeth just drew me in, and I pictured him on my desk. He’d watch my back while I write. But then I took a look at his eyes. Big, beady eyes that would give me nightmares for the rest of the night if I caught them staring at me in the middle of the night.

Then there was Santa Claus, whose eyes seemed to follow me whenever I walked past. Few things creep me out more than eyes following me. So his ass stayed on the shelf; I didn’t even look at his price-tag.

 

Project Salsa: the Beginning

Growing flowers requires pretty much no preparation. Got seeds? Got soil? Got a pot? Combine and then pop that sucker in sunlight (and remember to water it every couple days,) and it’s good to go.

Growing vegetables is a bit more complicated. At least it is when I’m looking to produce a usable amount of vegetables rather than having the occasional handful of cherry tomatoes to snack on. Vegetables require research and planning. What kinds of plants will do well on my patio? How much space do they need? And how many plants should I plant to get a usable yield (so I can actually make salsa)?

My research has given me an idea of what I should be doing, and I’ve come up with a list of what I want to plant. The next step is figuring out planter sizes and how to best utilize my patio space. Other than the garlic (which probably should’ve been planted in the fall), nothing needs to be planted until late March, which means I have time to figure those things out. And that’s good because I’ll be planting a lot of different seeds.

Here’s a rough list of what I’ll be planting this spring:

  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Pumpkins
  • Watermelon
  • Cantilope
  • Marigolds
  • Red Sunflowers
  • Wildflowers
  • Forget-Me-Nots

And all of that will hopefully fit on my itty, bitty patio. It’s … going to be an adventure.

Screw Resolutions. Here are My Goals for 2019

I’m changing things up for 2019: I’m not making resolutions; I’m making goals. This is part of my plan to get my shit together, writing and having-a-life-wise.

So what are my goals for the coming year? And why did I decide on them? I know you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Sew My First a Quilt
I inherited a sewing machine when my parents moved from Massachusetts to South Carolina. And up until about a couple weeks ago, it had sat in a box and on the shelf in my closet since August. The instructions make almost no sense and if not for YouTube, I would’ve never figured out how to thread the bobbin (or what the bobbin is even for). Searching for sewing projects on Pinterest led me to the magical world of quilting, and I decided that I had to make one. Even if it was just to say that I’d done it.

Write & Post Serial Fiction
The idea of posting a piece of serial fiction has been on my mind for years, but I’ve always talked myself out it for one reason or another. That’s going to change, though. I want to post more regularly on here, and this is a way to do that. At least for the duration of the serial. Plus I’m working on a short story that’ll lend itself to the format. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get into a groove and make serials a regular thing.

Make Salsa with Veggies from the Garden
Last year, I took a risk and planted vegetables on my patio. Certain ones–like tomatoes and carrots–did surprisingly well. That’s encouraged me to refine my container garden, improving on the plant spacing and growing more root vegetables. Plus I want to make a recipe using veggies that I’ve grown myself. I mean, there’re few things tastier than eating ripe tomatoes right off the vine. But there’s a level of self-sufficiency in cooking with vegetables that I’ve grown myself.

Finish the Voss 1st Draft
I didn’t write much during 2018: a couple short stories but no novels or novellas. That’s something I want to change. I want to get myself into a writing routine and to complete the first draft of a full-length novel. An idea–that I’ve dubbed Voss–has been floating around my head since I watched the first few seasons of The Curse of Oak Island over last summer. It’s basically a treasure-hunting story with a bit of Haunting of Hill House thrown in to amp up the creepiness.

Tackle an Ambitious Knitting Project
I got back into knitting last year, and the projects I’ve tackled have been confidence-boosters. My garter-stitch hats and the garter-stitch baby blanket for my SO’s new nephew have kept me busy. I want to step up my game, though, and knit a pattern that’s more difficult. Like something with purl stitches (I haven’t figured those out yet) or where I have to count rows.

Visit Somewhere New
This one is more of a tradition than a new goal. Every year since 2013, I’ve made it my mission to visit somewhere that I’d never been. It can be somewhere a plane ride away or as simple as checking out a new town. I already have a couple places in mind: Asheville, Carrowinds Amusement Park, and the beach at Myrtle Beach. It’ll ultimately come down to logistics. And to be honest, I might even go after this goal more than once.

Accountability is a big part of meeting goals, so I’ll be posting regularly about my progress on each of these. Do you have any goals for 2019? What are they?