Characters We Love to Hate

Rainbow Layer CakeThe week started out last Sunday with a family birthday gathering. My daughter’s 19th birthday was the week before, and my brother’s was this past week, so we always celebrate them together. When I asked my daughter what kind of birthday cake she’d like, she said “something fruity–maybe one of those Jello cakes.” When I found this Rainbow Layer Cake online, I couldn’t resist, and since my brother also likes fruit-flavored cakes, I knew it would be perfect. Sure enough, it was easy to make, and a big hit after our cookout.

A couple days later, our daughter left for GenCon (a gaming convention, for those not in the know), so it’s been quiet around here. She leaves to go back to school next weekend, so time to get used to it. DH and I ate out several times, and he got a lot of work done in the garage, while I did a lot of reading–and a lot of writing.

MASQUERADEWhat I read this week: We’ve all seen them on TV, and maybe read them in books: the character who’s totally self-centered, manipulative, and who goes through life without a care for anyone but him/herself. There is nothing about this character we relate to or sympathize with. We love to watch to see this character get her come-uppance, or if a criminal, be brought to justice, and be triumphed over by the characters we do like and root for.

In my case, this is seldom a main character–I don’t want to spend that much time with someone I’d so despise in real life. That’s especially true for a novel, where we’re talking several hours, rather than 40 minutes or so (not counting commercials), or maybe two hours for a movie. But this week, it was exactly that kind of character that pulled me in, in Masquerade, by Maria McKenzie.

I don’t know why this book sat on my virtual to-be-read shelf for so longMasquerade is historical fiction and a family saga, set in my favorite time period, the turn of the twentieth century. I loved both of McKenzie’s prior books, one of which was Escape, the prequel to Masquerade. Maybe it was because Lavinia, the main character in Masquerade, was introduced in Escape, and we already saw how manipulative she was when she convinced a wealthy theater owner to marry her. He was smitten by her beauty, but she was only interested in his money and connections, to start the career she craved in acting.

I couldn’t find any sympathy for this woman. And I couldn’t put the book down. After thinking about it, I realized I found her so intriguing because she had a secret vulnerability: Lavinia was “passing”–meaning she appeared white, but had African ancestry (her mother was black, an escaped slave). This secret would destroy her career if found out. I’ve found it intriguing to learn that “passing” was not all that unusual in the early 20th century–a surprising number of yesteryear’s stars we always thought of as white actually had African or Asian ancestry, as noted on McKenzie’s blog–and fascinating fodder for her book. Revelation, the third installment of the trilogy, just came out a couple weeks ago, and I know this one won’t wait on my TBR pile for long!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal this week was to finish the ending scene for my work-in-progress, and I did! It ended up being much longer than I thought–actually, it was two scenes, to the tune of 4,300 words, more than I’ve written in one week in a long time. But most importantly, they both got written, so I’m very happy about that. One thing to note, I’m saying “finish the ending scene” rather than “finish the first draft” because I know there are several scenes to add in. Normally I write in order, but the romance plot just wasn’t gelling for me early on in the book, so I wrote around it. On the plane on the way to Puerto Rico in April, I realized what the romantic conflict was (the change I mentioned that would require massive work to implement, but would make the book so, so much better). So now it’s time to work that in. My goal: List the scenes, and write the first one, where the couple meet.

Fun fact about Isis: sometimes DH fluffs her pillow. No, our dog is not spoiled at all. :D

Fun fact about Isis: sometimes DH fluffs her pillow. No, our dog is not spoiled at all. :D

What about you–made any cool new recipes lately? Who are some characters you loved to hate, either in books or TV/movies? Were you familiar with the idea of “passing?” If you’re participating in ROW80–or even if you’re not, how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Little Bits Add Up

This has felt like another busy week, even though I was home for most of it.

Monday was my daughter’s 19th birthday, so we took her out to dinner, and celebrated with presents (we’re having cake and family over today, and celebrating my brother’s birthday along with it). We got her a Nintendo Wii U, so of course spent time setting it up and playing.

That pushed paperwork, which is normally my Monday evening duty, off to Tuesday. Paperwork here is not trivial, as my husband and I own two small businesses in addition to my writing business. And the beginning of the month is always busiest for his businesses.

Wednesday, no one had gone to the grocery store, so we ended up going out to dinner–which I didn’t mind, except that it took a good bit of time, and once again, I didn’t get much writing done.

By Thursday, I was getting kind of twitchy. I wanted to write. I had that ending scene all blocked out, was excited about it, and wanted to just get it down, darn it, but I hadn’t had time, kept being pulled in different directions. That night, I retreated into my headphones while DH watched TV so I could make some progress. Yet I didn’t feel like I did, because there were still some lingering paperwork issues providing distraction. On Friday, DH was busy in the garage, but Isis was very insistent that I play tug-a-lamb with her, so not as much got done as I’d have liked. (That’s OK, a puppy’s worth it.)

It's hard to write when this is being shoved into your elbow...

It’s hard to write when this is being shoved into your elbow…

Saturday, having a whole day helped, but my adrenal fatigue was really kicking in and I didn’t feel like I did much, just a bit here, a bit there. I was also still not done with the ending scene, which had been my goal. Darn thing expanded into three scenes! (I consider it a separate scene when it’s a separate unit of conflict, or separated by time or place, which these all were).

Then I looked at my totals. I’d written over 3700 words this week!

A little bit here and a little bit there really does add up. Now if only I could do that with decluttering my house…

What I read this week: I finished Smith’s Monthly #5 (entertaining, as always!) and started a new book Friday night. I’ll have more to say about it when I’m further into it, so will discuss next week.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal for this week was to complete the ending scene, and while I didn’t accomplish that, I did get three other scenes written, so I consider this week a win. I’ve refined the plan for my ending scene, and now can see that it really is limited in time and place, so I think I’m finally there this time. So that’s once again my goal for the week: finish that ending scene. And again, as a bonus, list out what other scenes need to be inserted earlier in the ms.

What about you–ever had one of those weeks when it seemed like very little got done, but when you look back over it, a lot actually did? Can you believe Isis is 55 lbs (my husband got her weighed this week)? O.o  If you’re participating in ROW80, or even if you’re not, how are you doing on whatever goals you may have? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

 

Road Trip for Research

This week has been a busy one. It started out with a research trip, my very first. My current WIP is the first one that hasn’t taken place mostly in my home area, so the first time I’ve needed to travel farther than across town (a twenty-minute drive in Dayton) to personally experience my book’s locale.

So on Sunday, my daughter, one of her friends, and I headed south to Middlesboro, Kentucky, on the north side of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, our primary destination. We arrived to rain and storms, so took it easy at the hotel Sunday night, where I got a good bit of writing in, even with the girls playing computer games in the room. In the morning, we walked out of our hotel to lovely views of fog in the mountains.

Our first day at the park, we took a tour of a restored historic village. Even though this one was occupied in the first half of the twentieth century, it was more on the lines of a pioneer village, with no running water or electricity–great stuff for how my eighteenth century hero would have lived.

Cumberland Gap village

This cabin was inhabited as recently as the 1940s

 

This waterfall began as a tiny spring in the historical village on the mountaintop. Photos do not do its beauty justice.

This waterfall began as a tiny spring in the historical village on the mountaintop. Photos do not do its beauty justice.

Later that afternoon, we trekked across Tennessee to visit the Museum of Appalachia, which was an experience all in itself. That too, gave me some great story ideas–mostly little details that add verisimilitude to our stories. And saw more antiques in one place than I could imagine. So. Much. Stuff. It was overwhelming! But a great place to visit, and a great snapshot of American history and culture, deserving of its association with the Smithsonian.

Then we headed across Norris Dam, which also figures into my WIP, and back to the hotel.

The second day, we took a cave tour. There are 38 known caves in the Cumberland Gap National Park, and we toured just a small part of one of the more well-explored ones, simply called “Gap Cave” now. This one housed soldiers during the Civil War, and has been open to tours since the late nineteenth century.

Civil War soldiers (and people since, before the park took over) left their mark in Gap Cave with carbide lamps and other implements.

Civil War soldiers (and people since, before the park took over) left their mark in Gap Cave with carbide lamps and other implements.

We ended our visit with a trip up to the Pinnacle Overlook, where the curviest and steepest road my old car has ever driven led us to some spectacular views:

Chimney Rock has drawn tourists for centuries, according to a placard nearby. Good to know!

Chimney Rock has drawn tourists for centuries, according to a placard nearby. Good to know!

Middlesboro, from above

Middlesboro, from the Pinnacle Overlook

This one is book cover-worthy!

This one is book cover-worthy!

As much fun as our trip was, I was glad to get back home to this:

I got it... now what?

I got it! Now what?

Then yesterday, my RWA chapter had an all-day retreat, where we did some fun plotty workshops and played a writerly version of Cards Against Humanity, which was great fun. Actually, the whole day was great fun, as always when I’m with a bunch of my writer friends.

What I read this week: Still working on Smith’s Monthly #5. Last week I read the short stories and serial parts, and started the novel. This week, I’m still reading the novel. Lots going on, and it was tiring, so not as much time to read.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I wrote a whole scene in my hotel room, during the two evenings we were in Middlesboro. So mission accomplished! It was not the ending scene, which was what I’d originally planned to write, but another one that sneaked in and needed to be written. Sometimes that happens. Then I got the ending scene sketched out. This week: I’m already started on the ending scene, so the goal is to complete that. As a bonus, I want to list what other scenes need to be added in the middle, because I already know of several.

What about you–if you’re a writer, have you ever taken a research trip? Have you ever been on a writers’ retreat? And whether or not you’re a writer, have you ever visited Cumberland Gap National Park? (If not, you should!) If you’re participating in ROW80, how are you doing–or if not, how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Does School Kill the Love of Reading?

I had an interesting conversation with a couple coworkers the other day. One woman is about my age, and has a daughter in college, and one in high school. The younger daughter is supposed to read Catcher in the Rye over the summer, and is struggling to get into it, to the point she’s just about decided to just read the Spark notes. My coworker says this is unusual; her daughter is an honors student and usually doesn’t have trouble with assignments, but just doesn’t enjoy reading any more. She wonders if the material they read in school is part of the reason.

Our other coworker is 26, so remembers her own experiences pretty clearly. “So much of it just isn’t relevant,” she concluded. “We had to read a Jane Austen book–I can’t remember which one, not Sense and Sensibility, the one with Mr. Darcy…”

Pride and Prejudice?” I asked.

“That’s it!” She went on. “I mean, it’s all stuff no one can relate to today. Arranged marriages… and the language.”

Now, I need to point out that this coworker is a highly intelligent woman, with a master’s degree, and one who isn’t afraid of doing hard work. My other coworker and I agreed that the archaic-sounding English also put up a barrier to relating to the story and characters.

So we went on discussing books we had to read in school and didn’t like–Moby Dick, Old Man and the Sea, anything else by Hemingway. One of them didn’t care for Shakespeare, either. (Interestingly enough, my college-student daughter loooooooves Shakespeare, but somehow does not enjoy reading a lot of fiction). Yet both of my coworkers like to read. The one just couldn’t figure out where her daughter, who used to like it when younger, lost that joy. My daughter also used to enjoy more fiction when she was in elementary and middle school, but has moved on more toward nonfiction.

However, one thing that somehow never gets old in my family is bodily functions jokes. Yesterday, my dad emailed me a link to this video. Only the Brits could’ve come up with the fart noise heard across the English channel!

Smiths-Monthly-5-testWhat I read this week: I started Smith’s Monthly #5. I’ve  followed Dean Wesley Smith‘s blog for a long time, and especially enjoyed his “Writing in Public” blog series that he started almost a year ago. It was fun reading about a long-time pro’s writing process in putting together his own magazine, and the stories sounded good, so I subscribed. It’s been especially neat to see the end product after reading about his creation of the works. Dean writes in the tradition of the old pulps from the mid-20th century, so this isn’t deep, thought-provoking literature, but they are fun, entertaining stories. I’m about 1/4 of the way through the novel in this one–a science-fiction romance. The hero in it is totally yummy, not creepy-looking like the guy on the cover! (And has only two arms. :))

Sorry, no puppy picture today. I didn’t take any new ones this week. Puppy pics will be back, though!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I finished the scene I wanted to finish last week, and started sketching out this week’s scene. That went okay, until a character tossed a plot bunny (aka, new scene) at me. So I will be working on that this week, with the goal, once again, to complete a scene, whichever one it may be. My accountability buddy returned home from vacation, but did not lash me with a wet noddle because she didn’t get her scene done, either (vacation + kids = I could’ve predicted that). So back to work for both of us this week.

What do you think–does reading too many books we don’t enjoy in school kill the joy of reading? Which books did you have to read in school that you didn’t like–or what are some you did? Is the video something your family would laugh at? If you’re a writer, do you follow Dean Wesley Smith’s blog? (If not, you should! Great info there, both on the writing and publishing business). Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Not Quite Feels Like Win

Om-nom-nom... Must. Eat. Every. Molecule!

Om-nom-nom… Must. Eat. Every. Molecule!

Isis got to get ice cream again on Monday. It wasn’t Dog’s Nite Out–that’s only once a month–but we were out of ice cream and no one remembered to put it on the store list. Everyone wanted some that night, so we went to the ice cream shop. Of course we took Isis! When we ordered, the woman asked, “Do you want a doggie cup?” Of course we did! Even though it wasn’t free that day. Isis agreed; there wasn’t a molecule left in that cup by the time she finished.

Not a lot went on between then and the weekend. I didn’t feel like I got much writing done either, but when I totaled up my word count, it was over 2,000 words. I did not finish my scene, but not bad. More on that below.

Then yesterday, I had to change banks for one of my small business accounts. My bank decided it was time to change their account offerings “to better serve their business customers.” Yeah, right. Translation: offer some extra services most businesses don’t need, and impose a bunch of fees on smaller accounts. The balance to avoid the fees was ridiculously high, so it was time for a change, this time to my local credit union. Don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago–this credit union is close to my house, enough that my husband used to walk our dogs through their parking lot every day. The ladies who worked the drive-thru window got to know him and would give the dogs treats, even though we weren’t even members there! Credit unions are nonprofit organizations, and as such, better suited for smaller accounts. So hopefully I won’t have to make another change for a long time.

I did manage to get a good bit of writing done after that, then went to dinner at a nearby sports bar/restaurant, where a neighbor was playing music. We go to this restaurant all the time, and the food is excellent. But last night, it wasn’t super-busy, yet they managed to screw up my order three times! First, my meal came without my side dish–homemade potato chips. They said they were out and making fresh. Okay, no problem. But the chips still hadn’t come by the time I finished my burger (which was super yummy, btw). Turns out another server had taken them. Then they finally brought them out–with cheese on them! Uh, that’s not what I ordered. At that point, I was wondering if the universe was trying to tell me something LOL. As in, I really Did. Not. Need. Those chips. Which I didn’t. But they’re sooooo good, and I really wanted them. I finally got them about twenty minutes after that. They were indeed sooooo good–and my meal was free. Am I going back? We’ve been to this place enough times to know that last night’s experience was not the norm. The food was still fantastic, and it always is, so yes! We’ll go back.

What I read this week: I finished my friend’s book that I started last week. I will admit this was one of those that took me a little while to get into at first, probably because there were so many point-of-view characters, but by the end, I was really tapping the pages. Not giving any more details since it’s going on submission for a big publishing deal. Here’s hoping it gets one!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 update: My goal was to complete a scene this week. I did not do that, so not quite a win, but when I went back and looked over my wordcount, I’d written over 2,000 words. This is also the climactic scene in the book, and these are IMO the hardest to write. So even though I didn’t finish the scene, it still feels like a win. I also wanted to go back and get notes down for half of the online workshop I just finished. Didn’t get that either. So that’s what’s on tap for this week, get the notes for the workshop, finish this challenging scene, and at least get started on the next, final scene.

What about you–do you give your pets people food treats? Ever gone to a restaurant where you’ve gotten bad service, but you’ll still go back? Have fees driven you to change banks? If you’re participating in ROW80, or just have goals, writing-related or otherwise, how are you doing on them? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Are You Insane?

Yes, I’ve been asked that before, plenty of times. Mostly by people who’ve known my husband a long time, when they find out I’m his wife. And I’m sure that someone, somewhere, thinks he’s insane by marrying me. And then there’s the fact that, as a fiction writer, I do hear voices in my head…

But what the title’s referring to is yesterday’s RWA chapter meeting. That was yesterday, with an excellent program on mental illnesses by author and psychology teacher Sandy James. She mostly focused on a few that writers often get wrong, like schizophrenia, and the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths (the  former are excellent actors and hard to pick out, while with the latter, people can quickly tell there’s something “off”). Even though I have a really good book on this topic, The Writers’ Guide to Psychology, Sandy covered these topics in more depth and answered tons of good questions from the chapter. And as always, it was fun to see writer friends and talk writing.

Earlier in the week, it was Dog’s Nite Out–a monthly promo event one at an ice cream shop in our area. If you take your dog, they give you a free single-scoop cup of vanilla with a dog biscuit on it. They must rake it in on these, because the place is usually packed on Dog’s Nite! Even at 4 months old, Isis did great–she’s friendly to people, especially kids, and calm and well-mannered around other dogs, too. Unfortunately, I was busy watching dogs (especially Isis) and eating my own ice cream, and did not get photos. I’ll rectify that next time.

What I read this week: I’m currently reading an unpublished book by a friend. My friend’s currently shopping it to traditional publishers, so I can’t share the title and don’t want to say much about it, other than it’s very well written, and the fictitious city in it is so well-developed, it’s like another character in the story and hard to believe it’s not real.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My own writing is going fairly well. I got my scene written for the week, at about 2800 words. I also finished the last assignment of my online workshop. So, goal met, and same writing goal for this week. For the online workshop, I need to go back and re-watch the videos and take notes. My goal there is to do that for the first half of the workshop, which is about three hours’ worth.

And this week’s puppy picture features my daughter. And yes, Isis is due for a bath…

"She smells like a dog!" There might be a reason for that...

“She smells like a dog!”
There might be a reason for that…

What about you–ever been to a Dog’s Nite Out, or similar event? Did you know the difference between a psychopath and sociopath? (I wasn’t clear on it before our program.) If you’re participating in ROW80, or just have goals, whether writing or otherwise, how are you doing with them? Is it obvious when your pets need a bath? LOL Please share, I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Figuring It Out

I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks, mainly because I’ve been lazy, but ROW80 starts back up on July 7th, so it’s time to get back in gear.

The writing has been progressing, and I’ve been taking an online workshop as well, so that’s good. I also got an accountability buddy, a writing friend who’ll keep me honest and give me a virtual kick in the pants if I’m being lazy–and for whom I’ll do the same if necessary.

I got confirmation of why I’ve been so tired the past six months or so: I have adrenal fatigue. I went to a hormone therapy clinic, and they did a round of testing, which revealed that I have very low cortisol levels. Cortisol gets a bad rap as it’s the stress hormone, but it’s also one we need a certain amount of in order to function. Normally, cortisol is supposed to spike a couple hours after we rise in the morning, gradually tapering off throughout the day. My tests revealed that mine barely goes up at all. Adrenal fatigue is curable, but there’s no quick treatment. All we can do is minimize stress (which I’ve already done), eat healthy (working on it), and take supplements, and get adequate sleep. I have some new supplements recommended by the clinic, but the latter can be a challenge, as one symptom of adrenal fatigue is insomnia! Supplements can help that, too, so hopefully things will be looking up there in a few weeks.

We had a great Fourth of July. The Fourth is probably my favorite holiday–not only because I’m a patriotic American, but also because I don’t have to cook, clean, or shop, and… fireworks! We went to some friends’ big party on the third with an impressive catered dinner and fireworks display. On the Fourth, we went to my brother’s, where we grilled out and let off fireworks of our own. Both were equally fun. We took Isis, who was less than thrilled at the fireworks. She did a bit better the second night, as we were able to just leave her in my brother’s house, where she watched out the patio door with a very concerned expression the whole time.

SacrificeTheFeyWhat I read this week: I finally finished Sacrifice: the First Book of The Fey by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This is epic fantasy, and befitting of the term epic, was long, complex, and with many point-of-view characters. It was originally published in the mid-90s, but I hadn’t read this series before, and really enjoyed it once I got into it and got to know some of the characters well enough. That took a while, because there were so many different points-of-view, but was worth it. Even so, the story and worldbuilding were interesting and entertaining enough to pull me in. If you’re looking for something to read after Game of Thrones (or rather, the Song of Fire and Ice series), give this one a try. I doubt you’ll be disappointed, and better yet, all seven of the series are out and available. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series.

ROW80Logo175And now for ROW80: My accountability buddy and I decided that for now, my goal is to write a scene per week. I have three more scenes to complete this book, provided none of them are actually two or more scenes in disguise (that happens sometimes). The 7th marks the beginning of ROW80 Round 3, and I hope to finish this book by the end of Round 3, but since that depends on other people (beta readers, editors), I’m just going to shoot for first draft, initial revision, cover, and cover copy. For this week, the goal is to finish one scene, plus the assignment for my workshop (which incidentally, is about cover copy and other types of sales pitch type stuff).

Of course, I have to include a fun puppy picture!

How can anyone resist this face?

How can anyone resist this face?

What about you? If you’re in the U.S., did you do anything fun for the Fourth? (Or the first, for our Canadian friends?) Do you like long, epic fantasy novels? Could you resist that puppy face? If you’re participating in ROW80, or have some semi-long-term project goals, what are they? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

When Life Hands You a Guardrail…

You get a new motorcycle, right? No? You mean life hasn’t handed you a guardrail lately? Or ever? Yeah, me either, at least not literally. I guess that’s a good thing!

motorcycleBut a few weeks ago, that’s exactly what happened to my husband. He was riding his motorcycle to Washington D.C., a trip he makes every year around this time. He still isn’t sure, but figures he must’ve hit an oil slick or something, because he went around a curve just outside of southeast Ohio, and the bike’s back wheel slid out from under him. He jumped off just in time to avoid being pinned against the guardrail.

It was just one of those freaky things that could happen to anyone. My husband is a very skilled and experienced rider–he even did if for a job for a while (funeral escort), in all kinds of weather and conditions, so he knows what he’s doing. His ankle was twisted up quite a bit and he suspected he had some cracked ribs, but he and his friend managed to extricate the bike from the guardrail, tie up the broken trim and lights, and…

He rode the rest of the way to Washington. And three days later, rode back home, over 700 miles. When he (finally) went to the doctor, they x-rayed him and said he had three broken ribs.

Despite the bike being perfectly rideable, the insurance company totaled it, so that day, he ordered a new one. A 2014 Ultra Limited–exactly what he wanted–had just come off the truck at his dealership. He picked it up last week.

Most people thought he was nuts. (Okay, this is not unusual.) Mostly, for riding all the way to DC and back with broken ribs. A few were surprised he bought a new motorcycle again so fast. But no one who knows him well is.

The bike is Harley’s top of the line model, and is of course very nice–cushy, smooth ride, and has everything you could want on it. We’ve been enjoying it a lot already!

Our daughter got a job. This might not sound like a big deal, but…she’s 18. And has no work experience except for a couple of months working in the dining hall on campus this past school year. So, the job market being what it is for that age group, she’s put in at least three dozen applications since February for a summer job. Not one nibble. Not even from the restaurant in our neighborhood, the owner of which is friends with my husband. He liked that she had experience as a cashier (one of her dining hall duties), but didn’t have any openings.

Until last week. He called her on Sunday and asked her to start the next day.

We got another new storm door–this time for the front door. And–wait for it–yes, my husband installed it! After messing with the back door all weekend (it seemed), he decided the front storm door needed replacing too, and did just that. This time, he measured correctly, and it only took about three hours. It looks really nice, too!

crab boilOn Saturday, my husband and some friends threw a spontaneous crab-boil. We’d never done this before, but it turned out to be quite easy (especially for me, since he did it all :D ) and lots of fun! DH looked it up and found this recipe, bought the shrimp, potatoes, and sausage, and friends contributed crab legs, corn, and beer. It was delicious! Our daughter, who loves to cook and bake, made this amazing red wine velvet cake. Yes, you can taste the wine–there’s 2-1/2 cups of wine in it! (She has the cookbook linked from the blog, which is for a three-layer cake). The wine enhances the chocolate! The Mascarpone icing was awesome, too– the perfect topper to a perfect meal and a great time with friends. Best of all, there was very little cleanup.

What I read this week: Still working on the fantasy novel (it’s a long one), and still laughing at last week’s comment by Coleen Patrick linking “fantasy novel” with a nonfiction book for women and “the men who want to know what’s going on with (women).” LOL!

ROW80Logo175As for my ROW80 update, well, I missed Sunday, so that’s why I’m posting today. I did meet my writing goal, but spent the day at my brother’s with family to celebrate Father’s Day and my mom’s birthday, which is tomorrow (Wednesday)! Happy birthday, Mom!

Oh, for this coming week, going to shoot for 2,000 words, plus homework for the online  writing workshop I’m currently taking.

And for this week’s puppy picture, Isis in her latest napping spot:

Napping in shower

That’s a 36″ shower stall, so that gives you an idea of how big she’s getting. She went to the vet for a checkup this week, and already weighs over 30 pounds!

So, can you believe my husband took on installing another storm door? Ever had a crab boil, or red wine velvet cake? What do you do when life hands you a guardrail? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

When a Two-hour Job Takes Twelve

storm doorWe’ve all been there–somehow, a project that was supposed to be easy, turns out to be not so much. For us this week, that project came in the form of what we now refer to as the storm door from hell.

We needed a new storm door for a good couple of years now. Twenty years of Rottweilers banging on our back door had taken a toll on the one that came with the house, and it was literally falling apart. So my husband ordered a new one. It didn’t occur to him to ask me how to measure for it (in my previous life as a graphic artist, I designed advertising and related materials for the home improvement industry). It apparently didn’t occur to the salesman from whom he ordered the door to ask either, even though DH mentioned that he’d never done this before. The salesman assured my husband that it would be easy to install, and should only take a couple hours.

You can guess where this is going. Yup, DH got the hinge frame in, the door hung, and… it was too wide. He’d ordered a 32″ door, and we needed a 30″ one. Worse, it was a special order door, so there was no returning it, even if he hadn’t already drilled holes to mount it. He’d also chosen a very nice, top-of-the-line, most likely to be Rottweiler-resistant one, so it cost a bit too much to just toss or give away (or sell cheaply). The other thing is, when my husband decides to do something, he is nothing if not determined…

We ended up going back to the store for lumber, and bolting another frame onto the exterior of the existing one–fortunately, there was room inside the brick edge. There’s a gap around it, but it’s on the back of the house that few ever see.

But we weren’t done yet. Even after we got the frame right (this took several tries), that door fought us every step of the way, it seemed. My husband had to go buy a larger drill bit to install the handle, and even after that, the handle didn’t go on right. There was a big gap at the bottom of the door, and the expander was barely large enough (this had been the case with the old door, too). Because of the way we’d had to frame the door, my husband had to chisel out sections of the old door’s frame to install the brackets for the closers.

But finally, we got it in there, and it is a nice door.

81Y7zQElrfL._SL1500_What I read this week: I’m Too Young for This by Suzanne Sommers.  Here’s the description from Amazon: Why Wait to Feel Good Again? If you’re in your thirties or forties, your body is changing, and so are your moods, sleep, health, and weight. Tired of being at the mercy of your hormones? Armed with the knowledge in this book, you don’t have to be. Perimenopause can be enjoyable if you know what to do. I’m Too Young for This! details how you can get your body and mind back on track, safely and without drugs.

I’ve read a few similar books, and this is definitely worth looking into (and I am). This book is written in conversational, easy-to-understand language, with a bit of humor too. Recommended for any woman in this age group or older, or the men who want to know what’s going on with them!

I am also reading a fantasy novel, but didn’t finish it, so will blog about it when I do.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: Writing went well this week. I kept up with my workshop, figured out my ending, and wrote 1700 words. Still not a lot, word-count-wise, but exceeded my goal, so that’s a win! This week, I want to do the same, preferably more, but I don’t want to push it just yet.

And now for the obligatory puppy picture, because you can never have too much cute:

byebye

What about you–what have you taken on that should have been easy, but wasn’t? Have you read any good books lately? Do you think Isis is ready to get her driver’s license? If you’re participating in ROW80 or set your own weekly goals, how are you doing with them? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.

Do Blog Posts Need to be Witty and Insightful?

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but I’ve skipped a few weeks here on the blog. Mainly, I didn’t have anything much to report on the writing front, and just didn’t feel like it. I’ve read many times and in many places that to draw readers to our blogs, we need to have a catchy title, and content that either makes them laugh or ponder or at least is highly entertaining, and lately, I just don’t have that in me.

Actually, I just don’t have that in me most of the time when it comes to the blog. Not that I don’t like blogging–hey, I’ve been at it for three years this time–but I believe we have a limited capacity for coming up with witty, clever and insightful, and mine is pretty low. What little there is, I try to put into my fiction.

I gave it some thought, and came to a realization: as much as I like the blogs that make some keen observation on life, or point out something that could become a problem (a recent topic has been the over-proliferation of political correctness), I also enjoy blogs like Kait Nolan’s and Stacy McKitrick’s, where they write about what’s been going on in their life the past week, what they’ve been reading, and what they’ve struggled with to get to the writing–or the great bursts of productivity they’ve had. It gives readers a glimpse of who they are, and shows us that writers are just ordinary people like everyone else who have to deal with broken pipes and sick pets and take fun vacations and read. So, lacking anything witty or insightful at the moment, I’ll go with the ordinary for my past three weeks.

1. The week of May 11 was Birthday Week here in the Powell household. Not only was that Mother’s Day (which we actually celebrated a week later), my birthday and my husband’s birthday, which are two days apart, both fall in that week. It was also the daughter’s last week of school, which meant moving her out of her dorm and back home for the summer. We topped off the week with a family cookout to celebrate all of the above.

Isis 12 weeks2. Isis has been growing like crazy, and like puppies should be, continues to be very active and playful and ornery! She was less than 10 pounds when we got her at the end of April, and now weighs well over 20. She loves to steal shoes, socks, bathroom rugs, and anything else she finds on the floor, so requires constant supervision, much like a toddler. In addition to housebreaking, we’ve been informally working on things like “sit” and “shake,” but my husband begins more intensive training this week.

3. We sold my Harley on my birthday. It was a tough decision to come to, but made the most sense, as I rode it all of three times last summer. Between my headaches, job, writing, and other responsibilities, I just don’t have time, and never could get into riding just for the hell of it (i.e., without having a destination and purpose). The Harley was also too big for me–I had to have the shocks adjusted all the way down, and wear heeled boots just to be able to flat-foot stand on it, and I was never 100% comfortable on it. It was fun for the few years I had it, but sometimes you just have to realize when something isn’t working for you and move on. We sold it to a young woman who was much taller than I, and who will hopefully enjoy it for many years.

4. I had some testing done for my fatigue to see if it’s due to hormonal imbalances, which according to a lot of stuff I’ve read, is quite common at my age. The results will take up to three weeks to get back. In the meantime, the vitamins and supplements I started a couple months ago are helping. I’m still tired most of the time, but seldom at the debilitating level I was for a while there.

Alienated5. I have made some slow progress on my novel–and yes, it’s now nudging firmly toward novel territory. More changes have occurred to me as I wind toward the end that will make it a better story–but will also make it longer. My progress mostly stalled out over these past few weeks–I’ve gotten maybe a couple thousand words down in that whole time–but today I figured out a few things that should help. Wish me luck!

What I read this week: Alienated, by Melissa Landers, who is one of my OVRWA chapter buddies. Fantastic YA sci-fi about a student exchange program that goes horribly wrong–and about young people from Earth and the other planet who have a lot of  their ideas about each other challenged as friendship–and more–develops. Highly recommend!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: As noted above, the writing is going slowly, but I did manage to format two ebooks for one of my copyeditors, and they came out great! So for this week, I want to get my writing back on track, get the ending planned out, and get 1,000 words down on that.

What about you–do you like “ordinary” blogs, or do you gravitate more to the witty, insightful ones? Do you find it hard to write the latter, week after week? How was your May? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, KoboiTunes, and more.