30 04 2012

All I can do is stand and applaud in the shadow of this post.

Anthony V. Toscano, Writer

There is no urgent need to read these words. They won’t teach you how to build or fix anything. Nor will they inspire you to change your life. No sign of any paranormal zombies making insignificant love will appear between these lines. Neither will I attempt a cute, digital age push toward “liking” a social media site page I just created complete with a tawdry cover-art illustration of a hunk or hunkette’s buff chest across which lies a long-stemmed rose leaking drops of blood to signify a teenaged broken heart that beats inside a post-adolescent body that just barely graduated high school and considers itself an author by virtue of owning a computer and an Internet connection.

As well, heed my warning when I tell you that this is just the first part of a serial poem which will never reach its destination. Nothing I write will ever find Oz…

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A successful week: Row80 update

29 04 2012

I feel a sense of satisfaction, glancing over my list of Row80 goals. I’m happy with my progress in almost every area under Better Life Habits, so much so that I’m adding a couple of other goals.

While I haven’t been religious about walking every single day, I’m well on my way to establishing the following habits: turning off lights, making my bed, shutting cabinet doors, having a clean kitchen sink, so I’m adding the following: keeping the bathroom clean, and brushing the dog 1x/week. My canine is a miniature poodle, so brushing her is essential… and I’m a bad doggy mom. I let her go, and then it’s a huge chore when I get around to it… which is a task that I’m still putting off. TODAY, Ms. Blossom – I promise! I’m sick of the science experiment that is my bathroom, oy. Enough said, or perhaps too much.

Creatively, I’m now officially unblocked! As I blogged two days ago, I had a major realization, and the ideas (if not the words) are flowing again. Yay! Unfortunately, I haven’t been practicing, knitting, or starting on the mask-making project, because I’ve been rather out of control re: Facebook, Tiny Wings, and Stoneloops of Jurassica. And instead of finishing my scarf, I’m thinking of starting on a sweater. Or a weaving project. I must have creative ADD.

I posted a non-Row80 blogpost (linked above) this week, and have another planned for next week (yay), this is my Sunday check in. I’ve been on Twitter and reading blogs, and did the monthly get-together with local writer tweeps. Come to think of it, we need to schedule one for May.

Next week will be more of a challenge, because my houseguest will be back on Tuesday for 5 days. I hope I can have some boundaries with her, and get some stuff done while she’s here. I know she’ll understand – and she has a couple of projects to work on, too.

Row80 is turning out to be a positive thing for me, this time around. Last time my health issues got the better of me, but that is more or less in the past, and I’m looking forward to the next several months. Except for the temperature part. Summer is tough here in South Texas.

How are you doing, at the end of April? Have you made Row80 or New Years’ Goals that you’re struggling with? What are your success stories?

Quit Resisting the Muse!

27 04 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo


The past several weeks have been, for all practical purposes, novel-writing free. As you might remember, I received a sleep apnea diagnosis a while back, and have now completed two months of treatment using a CPAP machine. I’m finally feeling mostly better, having more energy. If I wasn’t superstitious I’d say that I’m over the hump.

:::knocks on wood:::

Most weeks I’d barely managed 1,000 words, and that mostly blogposts, some weeks were a big, fat zero. Then on April 22nd I knocked out over 2,100. What happened? I stopped trying to tell my muse what’s what, that’s what!

I have been trying to hog-tie my (now 116,000+ word) novel into something that made three-act sense. I was looking for that opening scene, that inciting incident which would hook the reader into reading something that I hoped would be around 85,000 words. And it wasn’t working. I was blocked up, unable to move until I figured out where the heck to begin.

Then on Sunday morning, in the shower, my muse hit me over the head. (She has a way of jumping me when I least expect it).

“Just write the damned thing! Tell this man’s story! Damn the word count! We’ll figure it out later!”

Um, yeah. By the time I had dried my hair, I had the beginnings of three new scenes begging to be put on paper, and was ENTHUSED about writing again.

Today? I’m all WTH if it turns into a 210,000 word-trilogy. I’m unblocked, and writing better than ever.

And… I found a website with a novel-writing system that really appeals to me: the Snowflake System.


I’m going to take that out for a walk today, going through the steps for this particular novel, and fitting in the scenes that I’ve already written as I find them. Then I’m going to finish this novel, and self-publish it.

Row80 update, 4/22/12

22 04 2012

This past week has been full of misfortune and woe, stark realizations, and progress.

On Sunday, two baby hummingbirds were taken by some bird of prey. I know about this because I had been watching Phoebe’s webcam. The recorded video from the attack stung my heart – though luckily the hawk had perched on the webcam and knocked it down, so you couldn’t see the predation. As you can see, she’s already rebuilt the nest, in another place. I think there’s a lesson for us all in this. Her human watchers were all aghast, but Phoebe? She got on with it. (There is another hummer webcam, Emma’s nest, if you’re interested. She has two hatchlings as of this writing.)

Then on Monday I learned that a dear friend’s 22-year-old son was killed in a one car automobile accident early Sunday night, the 15th. It was late, and he was driving through the Texas Hill Country near Driftwood, TX. Four other people have lost their lives on that particular stretch of road – something about a blind corner. There is nothing good to say about this circumstance. The funeral was Saturday.

Later on Monday I learned that my mom needed to have a breast biopsy on Tuesday. On Thursday the preliminary pathology report came back: it is cancer. She is 81, and a 16-year breast cancer survivor. It seems that this will be another easily-beaten cancer, though at this time we don’t know what she will have to go through. Last time it was a lumpectomy plus radiation. At her age, I hope they don’t prescribe chemo.

She is surprisingly unaffected by this diagnosis – she just wants the tumor OUT… NOW! The women in our family have a history of breast cancer, going back to her mother, who had a mastectomy. My 88-year-old aunt has had a double mastectomy, after having breast cancer twice. I imagine that my turn will come soon enough, within the next ten years if my mom and her sister’s experiences are any indication. I am accepting of this risk, and get my yearly mammograms.

I also had an echocardiogram and a 24-hour cardiac monitor this week, because I’ve been having palpitations for a couple of months. I don’t think that it’s any big deal – I’ve had them off and on for years – but a friend recently had a heart attack and needed to have a stent (she is a couple years older than me, and is slender!), so I took it as a friendly head’s up and decided that I’d better check in with a cardiologist for the first time in about four years. I won’t know anything for a week or so.

So – on to Row 80 and my goals. You’d think that I would have been knocked for a loop, but I wasn’t. The holter monitoring was a huge bother – I thought the itching under the tape was going to drive me insane – and I’ve been a depressed, but on Friday I came out of it and actually wrote a blogpost! Will wonders never cease…

Better Life Habits: I’ve been doing quite well in the mornings, actually making my bed before noon most days. (huge grin) I managed to walk five times in the past seven (helps with the depression), and the lights are off and the cabinet doors are closed most of the time. The kitchen sink has proven to be more of a challenge, but hey, I’m managing. I’ve spent too much time on Facebook, and when I’m depressed iPhone games are too easy.

Creatively, I have had a moribund week until Friday, when I wrote the above-linked blogpost. The muse came out and kicked me in the butt, and I tried to do some writing over the weekend, to no avail. Today I’m going to go for a walk, then sit down with the laptop and start pounding away. It will probably be shite, but that’s better than the total lack of progress I made last week. I’ve done nothing with Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways course, but it’s there waiting for me when I decided to actually do something about it. I haven’t been practicing the flute, but that may be changing soon. I haven’t had the inclination to knit, or work on my mask-making project, but I have been delving back into tarot again, participating at Aeclectic Tarot from time to time. I have a large collection of decks, and this week added a much longed for deck: the Tarot de Paris. I enjoy reproductions of historical woodcut decks, and this is one that I’ve lusted after for years, after just missing the winning bid on eBay a while back. I also have discovered some wonderful self-published decks, like the Incidental Tarot. I don’t know where my revitalized interest in historical and new tarots will lead me, but it makes me happy, so that can’t be too bad!

Social Media: I haven’t been on twitter (bad, BAD writer!), but I have written the non-row80 blogpost, and will have a writer meetup today at 2:30 with a couple of my writer friends. I’m SO looking forward to that!

I finally got an invite to Pinterest, and have some thoughts for image-collecting there. But for now I’ll leave you with an unattributed quote from yesterday’s funeral.

Great is the matter of birth and death;

impermanence surrounds us.

Be awake each moment;

do not waste your life.

Godspeed, J.J.

Friday blog love

20 04 2012

By Julia Indigo/@juliaindigo

I confess: I’m not much of a blog reader. I have a double handful of writer blogs that I subscribe to, and I read them from my inbox. For someone who got her geek cred when she hackintoshed her Dell Mini netbook with OSX, you’d think I could figure out how to use an RSS feed. But no. They are opaque to me. I rarely comment. I know, horrible HORRIBLE blog etiquette! But I do read the blogs that I subscribe to, and one that I adore is Lani Wendt Young’s blog, Sleepless In Samoa. One of her recent posts is a fav of mine: A Piano Fell On My Head.

It was like a piano had fallen on my head. This is just not good enough.  I know I’m a hermit. I know I’m rather anti-social. I know that I have loser interpersonal skills. But after 52 weeks worth of Sundays with very welcoming, friendly, supportive and fun people – I should be better at this. But I’m not. Because I keep thinking that “I’m going home soon. I’m not going to be here for very long. This is not my REAL church/neighborhood/community. I don’t REALLY belong here. My REAL church/neighborhood/community is at home in Samoa.” So therefore I don’t REALLY need to make an effort. Because why bother?

I’m also a hermit, Lani. I need to put myself out there more, too. I can so identify with this! (and I did try to comment on that post, but the sign in was so frustrating that I gave up.)

Another blog that means a lot to me is Guinevere Gets Sober. Guinevere is in the UK, and her thoughts on addiction and sobriety and recovery are actually applicable to just about everyone, addicted or not, because recovery is about being human. And, as a bonus for me, her thoughts help me flesh out those of my alcoholic, sexually-addicted main character, Steven Canelli. More on him next week. Her post, Running With Athena (her friend, not the Goddess!) let’s everyone in on her insecurities… and how they are being healed.

Imagine, someone thanking me for running with her. Bloody hell.

My life is changing without my even trying.

And, if you want gorgeous pics to salivate over, try A Certain Slant of Light Photography. I have no idea how I found this blog, but I’m ooohing and aaaahing all the time there. Lovely stuff!

What blogs do you subscribe to, and why? What turns your crank?

Early Row80 Check in

14 04 2012

Since I have this afternoon off, I thought I’d go ahead and write Sunday’s Row80 check in. The week has been a mixed bag, in large part due to a house guest, and finishing up my tax return.

Better life habits: Housekeeping: I was much better with the cabinet doors/lights/ and kitchen sink. However, I didn’t make up my bed the entire week. FAIL! I have to laugh at myself. I was getting up too late and rushing around at the last minute.

I didn’t walk much at all – and I’ll blame that on the weather and my schedule. And my house guest. I did limit my Facebook time – that was a success. iPhone games? Not so much.

Creativity: I did not spend any time with my HTTS course, or finish my plotting. I managed to write yesterday, and have been knitting every day during downtime. I didn’t practice every day, but I did think about it. Does that count?

Social Media: I didn’t write a blogpost, but I am managing the Row80 check in. I have been on twitter, and the get-together with local writer tweeps is scheduled for the 22nd.

While I didn’t manage to make these goals a reality this week, I’m not down on myself. Health-wise it was a difficult week. A couple of days I was dealing with heavy fatigue, when simply breathing seemed like work. I also had my friend visiting (she works with me), and some of my creative time was taken up by social time with her… a trade-off that I don’t regret at all.

The one thing that I feel bad about is not making up my bed! Julia! Just get up when the alarm goes off and do it!

I find that my word count takes a nosedive when I don’t take the time to exercise. It’s as though my Muse requires me to get into my body in order for her to speak. Taking a shower works, too, as long as I have the time for a leisurely shower. Holly Lisle talks a lot about getting/letting the Muse speak in her How To Think Sideways course, and I can’t wait until my life evens out more so I can get into the meat of that course. For now, it’s one day at a time.

Oh, and the IRS owes me money: THREE dollars. (applied to next year’s taxes, of course!)

Row80, once again

6 04 2012

If there’s anything that I learned last time, it was that life was going to intervene, and I wouldn’t finish Round One. I discovered that I had sleep apnea, and dealing with that reality continues to occupy a good amount of my psychic energy. There are going to be more changes in that arena, I’m sure… and I’ll deal with them as they come.

But I’m inspired, seeing all my peeps (and tweeps) lining up for Round two, so I decided to give this another go. My goals fall into a couple of categories: building better life habits, creativity, and social media.

Better life habits:

  1. Housekeeping: Become anal retentive about turning off lights and shutting cabinet doors. Make sure that the kitchen sink is clean and shining every night before bed. Make up the bed every morning (yeah, I’m messy!)
  2. Walk at least 150 minutes/week. That’s 30 minutes/5x/week.
  3. Spend less than 30 minutes/day on Facebook – use a timer. Get out in nature more!
  4. Limit iPhone games to 20 min/day. Use the timer!
  1. Finish plotting out my first draft, and finish it, if possible.
  2. Spend time every day with the How To Think Sideways course.
  3. Practice the flute at least 15 minutes/day (after all, it is my main job!)
  4. Finish the scarf I’m knitting, and start my mask-making project.

Social Media:

  1. Write one new non-row80 blogpost/week.
  2. Check in to Row80 on Sunday (this post, on a Friday, will count for Sunday, as I’ll be celebrating the holiday)
  3. Be on twitter 4 days/week
  4. Get together with local writer tweeps at least once/month.

I’m cutting back on social media, because I don’t see it as practical for me right now. It’s eating into my writing and studying time, and my Facebook time is mostly sharing photos with friends – not the best use of my time, even if it does bond us together. I think that this list is do-able for where I am in my life at this time.

Thanks for reading!

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