back to reality

One week always sounds like a lot of time until you get to the end of it. That’s kind of how my whole staycation felt. And while I knew that I would not be able to accomplish all of the wonderful things that I wanted during that week away from work, I am proud of my accomplishments.

Here are some of the highlights from my staycation, and how they are helping me achieve my goals now that we’re in the one-year stretch…

I turned down the offer of ice cream cake twice and ate only half a cupcake at a birthday party. This doesn’t probably sound huge to most people, but for me–a food addict–it is a big deal. I also managed my portions better and loaded up on foods like salads while eating smaller portions of the rest of the meals. This was a particularly good lesson when I went out for lunch, because I made a point of bringing home leftovers rather than overdoing it on the calories.

I am back to eating a mostly clean, well-planned menu that offers a good mixture of the nutrients I need to be healthy. I tried a couple of new recipes including a homemade veggie burger and tofu stir fry (made with quinoa instead of rice). As a result of this, and the previous bullet, I came out of my staycation having lost a few pounds. This bit of success has motivated me to keep going. Fingers crossed.

I also went for some walks and tried to be more active. I already noticed a difference when I went back to work yesterday and was able to climb the three flights of stairs to my office without getting winded.

I finished my Camp NaNoWriMo goal a week early. As reported last week, I realized my fifth novel–the one that I spent half of the month writing–needs more development, and so I started a Christmas novella. Though I wish I would have written more, I came out of the week with a full and thorough outline, well-developed characters, and more than 5,000 words. That’s one-fifth of the way to my target word count for the project, so I’ll take it.

I finished another round of edits for Book 3, which will be out in September, and developed a marketing plan and materials. There’s still some work to go on this project, but I’m feeling pretty good about it.

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I cleaned my apartment, reorganized my bookshelves, and sorted through my wardrobe. While I would have liked to do a deep clean and a big purge of materials, this is another one of those areas where I’ll say a little is better than nothing.

I also spent a lot of time with friends and family, which was wonderful. I joked to friends that I was looking forward to my time home as a chance to be a full-time cat mama, and I’ll admit, that was maybe my favorite part of staycation. It was nice to just be in the moment and have cat cuddles while I worked and plotted.

While going back to work is always tough after time away, I was pretty happy with my results from staycation and I hope the lingering effects continue to carryover throughout the coming weeks.

camp NaNo winner!

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As you may remember from earlier this month, I have been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo during the month of July. I set a goal of 20,000 words and I am happy to announce that I did it! It was the first time o have been able to meet my goal during one of these months so it feels extra exciting.

Not only do I have 20,000 words down for my book, but I also learned how to incorporate a writing habit into my daily life. Once I sat down to think about it and plan for it (and let’s be honest: make it a priority) it felt great to actually write. I also think 20.000 words a month is a good goal to shoot for every month.

I also learned that it’s important to just get words on the page. After talking with Laura many times during the month (writing with a friend made it extra fun) I have come to equate this draft and the overall process like buying a fixer upper house. Right now, I’m working on my fixer upper words, getting the structure and story in place so that later I can go back and put a cosmetic touch on them so they look better. You know I love houses, especially fixer uppers, so this has really helped me get my writing done.

greetings from staycation

I’m officially in vacation (i.e. staycation) mode, which means my thoughts are all kinds of scattered. While I had a little bit of panic last night realizing I was already on day four of ten days away from the office, I have still managed to make headway on the goals I outlined last week.

Here’s an update:

1. Enjoy the moment, enjoy life.
This is the area I’m probably most succeeding at fulfilling. On my first day of vacation, I met a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time for lunch, and then I grabbed an afternoon drink with Whitney. It was 102 degrees out, so there wasn’t a lot of energy left to do anything else. I have also spent some quality time with all of my family members since leaving the office on Thursday. Spending time with them reminds me of how much I like my family and how lucky I am to have them. There will also be more fun tonight when I go watch a couple of my friends perform a show at a local bar. I might have hesitated to go to this evening show if I was at work, so I feel pretty lucky to have the time to do it.

2. Do some serious damage on the first draft of Book 5.
So about this… On Saturday I reached my writing goal for July. If you’ll recall, I set a goal of writing 40,000 words as part of Camp NaNoWriMo. That would help me finish the first draft of my fourth novel (which I did) and start the first draft of my fifth novel. But… here’s the thing about that fifth novel. It’s not great, and it needs more development. This was an issue I was concerned about when I started it, but I wanted to write it for Camp. For the time being, I think it’s best to shelve it while I work on another project. (That’s something else that happened. Since I made my Camp and Staycation goals, my upcoming publishing schedule changed, and I have other projects that need to take precedence over it.) My new plan for the rest of the week is to finish this round of edits on Book 3 (fingers crossed I have the draft back to my publisher by tomorrow at the latest) and work on my second holiday novella. There are a couple of reasons this project is most appealing to me. One, it’s about one-third to one-fourth of the size of a full-length novel, which means I can do more damage on it. Two, it’s a smaller project, which means it won’t be too much of a distraction from the series I’m writing (Book 3 and Book 4 are the first two of four books planned for a series). So, yeah. Simplicity is going to be my friend.

3. De-clutter my apartment.
I still have some room to go on this, but I did sort through my clothes, cleared out my fridge, and finally emptied the landfill I had brewing in my car. Yesterday I did laundry, and I did some light cleaning over the weekend, which means I can focus on some bigger projects–like sorting through the rest of my closet and books–throughout the rest of the week.

4. Prepare for the launch of Book 3.
I had a bit of a leg-up on this last week after a couple of virtually sleepless nights, but I have a tentative marketing plan in place, and I’ve started to create some graphics, blog posts, etc. for when we launch the book this Fall. There’s still work to go on this front, but I feel pretty good about where I am at with it.

5. Reboot my healthy lifestyle.
I’m pretty proud of how this is going so far. In addition to declining desserts on multiple occasions throughout the weekend, I’ve made healthy decisions, used portion control, and tracked all of my calories since Friday morning. I’ve tried a few new healthy recipes and researched a bunch more to add to my rotation once I’m back at work. I have also gone for a couple of walks and even done some Pilates. I’d forgotten how nice it actually feels to have your abs and legs hurt because you were working them–not because you’ve been lazy.

I feel really fortunate to be able to take this time off from work. I’m sure it will fly by, so I’m off to go enjoy some more of it.

the lakes at the lake

Nathan jokes that I only married him because of his last name because I am obsessed with the water. I grew up on a lake and spent the summer in the water pretty much every day. And one of my favorite places is Lake Mac in Ogallala, which my parents took us to a lot as kids.

Last year, my two dear friends from college and I planned a trip to Lake Mac as it was a great meeting point for the three of us. It was a blast and with our second trip this year it has become an annual tradition.

Last year Broderick would sit in the water and seemed to like it. This year, he seemed to like it in specific situations–he liked to stand in it but not get to deep and loved spending time floating around. wb

This year the lake was so full that there was hardly any beach but we still had a blast. It was great to spend time with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite places.

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In terms of our future family trip, this was a great preparation for when we decide to go somewhere on an extended trip. We have learned that Broderick does OK somewhere else, just not at night. He slept really well the first night but not great the second or third. It could be that he doesn’t like the pack and play or just that he didn’t like sleeping in the same room as us, but either way, he didn’t sleep much…

I have to admit I not only have the travel bug after this weekend but also still am craving the water, so hopefully Broderick and I can get some pool time in before the summer is over!

staycation’s where i wanna be

On Friday, I’ll begin something I’ve been looking forward to for months. I’ll begin a week of vacation (which will actually be a staycation this year for budgetary purposes). After the busy schedule at work the past six months (or rather, two years!), I’m looking forward to taking this week away from the office to focus on other parts of my life. In my excitement, I created a Pinterest board of recipes, activities and more. I’ll admit, I may have a few too many goals for my week away from work (it is, after all, just one week), but because many of these goals are one and the same as the ones I have for Defining 30, I figure they’re worth going after.

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Goal 1: Enjoy the moment, enjoy life.
This goal almost didn’t make it on my list, because it doesn’t seem productive or even measurable. But when I think about what I most hope to accomplish during my vacation, this is my primary objective. It feels a little selfish, but meh.

Goal 2: Do some serious damage on the first draft of Book 5.
Camp National Novel Writing Month ends on July 31, which happens to fall during my staycation. While I’m already well near my word count goal for the month (and I finished the first draft of Book 4) I’d like to keep up the writing momentum. One of the joys of taking a whole week off from my job is the opportunity to pretend for one week that I’m a full-time author. After spending a couple of years writing with fear and anxiety, I seem to have worked out a decent balance as of late: keeping enough of the fear to strive to do my best while also not letting it keep me from going forward. That’s one of the goals of NaNoWriMo–to write without abandon. And it’s a wonderful feeling.

Goal 3: De-clutter my apartment.
While I’m by no means in need of an intervention via Hoarders, I do find myself frequently overwhelmed by the amount of objects I have. I’m blessed to have what I have, but I realize a lot of my clothes, dishes and so on could go to better use in a different home.

Goal 4: Prepare for the launch of Book 3.
I’ve already written a bunch of blog posts and brainstormed ideas for the upcoming launch of my third novel. But there’s more to be done, and I really need to piece it all together to make a cohesive plan.

Goal 5: Reboot my healthy lifestyle.
I was doing such a good job of eating well and exercising. And then I abandoned it, because when I get stressed I get lazy and overeat. But because I’ll be living a nice and happy little staycation life, maybe I can get back in the groove. I have some new exercises and recipes to try. I’m pretty excited about all of them.

So wish me luck as I prepare for Staycation. Any tips?

 

halfsies

Today’s post is a compilation of all of the things I have halfway completed lately:

  • Basement wet-bar cabinets. The top cabinets are painted and ready to hang up, the bottom cabinets need to be painted still. Here’s a before:

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  • Nathan’s closet. We have started building the shelving for one side of the closet. We used PVC pipe and spray painted it silver to look like metal. Our shelves have been cut already and now I am painting them, so hopefully that will be ready to put in this weekend.
  • We are half a month away from our first weekend away from Broderick and time with friends.
  • Halfway packed for family vacation getaway this weekend.
  • Half a month of not having any Diet Coke. Whoa.
  • Hope to be halfway done with my NaNo goal by the end of today.
  • Halfway through several books from the library and halfway decided on whether to read “Go Set a Watchman.”
  • Halfway through watching “Parks and Rec” again.
  • The house is halfway clean-ish.

five lessons after book four

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I finished the first draft of my fourth novel on Saturday night (right before midnight, so by the hair on my chinny chin chin). I’m still new enough at this whole being an author business that each time I finish (or start) a project it feels exciting. That’s a feeling I hope never goes away. But… I’ll admit, it wasn’t quite as emotional as when I finished the first draft of my first novel (I cried, because I’d proven to myself I could do it) or the first draft of my third novel (I cried again, because it had been a couple of years since I’d proven I could do it).

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t proud of myself, because I was. I’d created a schedule, set a goal, and fulfilled it (albeit a modified one, but isn’t life about creating goals and modifying them?). But it wasn’t an “OMG, I can’t believe it!” Because I could believe it. I did it.

Whitney and I are still in the midst of Camp NaNoWriMo, so after giving myself a day off, I started another project yesterday. My brain is admittedly a little fried still, so instead of waxing poetic or coming up with something brilliant or at least pithy, I thought for today I’d end by sharing a few of the tips I’ve found helpful through the years as I hone my skills as an author.

1. The only way you will ever write a novel is if you write one. That Yogi Berra-like factoid is true–every book starts the same way, with someone committing to writing it and stringing a series of words together until it’s done.

2. You have to hold yourself accountable. I like having writing buddies, because it’s fun to share the adventure with someone, but ultimately you are the only person who can tell your story, which means you have to keep working on it.

3. It’s okay to suck. Sometimes the fear of “What if this is bad?” keeps us from ever typing a single word. The best way to get over that hurdle, I’ve found, is to give yourself permission to write whatever comes out, even if it sucks. You can always go back and edit it later, but you’ll have spared yourself the hours (days, weeks, months, or years) of agony. But…

4. Fear is okay too. There is something wonderfully exciting yet equally terrifying about putting your thoughts and ideas down for others to read. And it’s fine to be a little scared. It can be a great motivator. Just don’t let it paralyze you. And remember…

5. You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself. Ricky Nelson sang about it, but this is definitely true with writing. I can’t think of a single book that is universally loved by everyone. While it’s nice to think about your readers and what they might like to read, the biggest critic you have to satisfy is yourself. Writing a book is a challenging and often all-consuming process. You should be proud of your story and happy about it.