Monday, October 12, 2015

Moonlight and Magnolias: A Great Regional RWA Conference!

Hi, everyone. I have not had a chance to update the blog because so much has been going on. I went to Moonlight and Magnolias in Atlanta from Oct. 1-4. This is a regional conference put on by the Georgia Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America. It was a great conference, and I learned so much! I went to sessions on plot and character development, and I attended Candace Haven's three-hour class titled "Fast Draft and Revision Hell." It was intense, but I learned more than I could have imagined. I may even sign up for her online class.

On Saturday, things got a little crazy for me. I went to one session about character development, but I missed most of another session on using humor in writing, because I had to make a phone call to my cousin (he's in the Army, and it was his birthday).   :)

We had a nice lunch with our keynote speaker, Chris Marie Green. But during the lunch, I received a text from my mother saying that my grandma was in the hospital...which led to several days (when I returned) of sitting in the hospital...and, well, you get the idea. No blog posts! Anyway, we are slowly getting back to normal now, so I thought I better update!

Anyway, that is about it for now. I'm super busy still playing catch-up, so I will post more later.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Off to a Good Start

I mentioned that I would be attending one conference, workshop, lecture, event, or class per month to help me feed my writing and Victorian passions. :) So, this weekend took care of September. On Saturday, I went to a fiction editing workshop. I went into the workshop knowing that I probably already knew most of what would be said (and I did), but I also know you can always learn something new (and I did). 

In my day job, I am an editor, but I edit nonfiction...which is very different from editing fiction. So, I learned a few little things to help me when I am writing fiction (and some things to avoid). Most of all, it was just nice to hear some really validating comments from someone who shares my line of work.

Other things going on:

1. This week I will be attending another writing conference (already scheduled) for several days. I'm excited, and this will take care of October's assignment. Also, I just found out about a small one-day conference on campus towards the middle of the month, and I will probably go to that, too.

2. I am still reading/thinking/writing, of course.

3. I'm on the lookout for a November event. My writer's group does have our reader's luncheon in November, but I would like something else. The luncheon is great, but I think I am going to be on the lookout for some kind of lecture. It is possible that the English department (or another department) will have something going on. So, here's hoping!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Vacation...Last Day: Dickens, Victorian London, and Conferences

No, I did not become a slacker and neglect my posting promise! I had a headache that wouldn't stop and kept me in bed for a day...then that turned into feeling like I was coming down with more time asleep. Anyway, I finally feel better, which I guess is a good thing, because I have to go back to work tomorrow. (See how jazzed I sound?)

Once the headache passed, I continued my Dickens reading. I am about halfway through Sketches by Boz, and I am loving it. It is so funny, and because I am relaxed and not under grad school pressure, rereading Dickens is a whole new experience. I mean, I loved him before, but having such a rich background (due to the work I did in grad school) and coming to him fresh makes me see so many new things.

Also, I am using the Penguin version of Sketches. I snatched it up when I found it, because I don't often find decent editions of the less popular works around here. The notes are fascinating, and it is really fun to read this alongside Judith Flanders's The Victorian City. I love how Dickens is actually writing about a pre-Victorian London, and it is fun to see glimpses into how things are evolving from the world of Jane Austen to the world of Dickens. It is truly a glimpse into a transitional period, and I am learning so much that I don't think I would have noticed when I was writing the dissertation.

Other things....

I've been doing a lot of planning and thinking about my future. I have decided upon a few things--both major and not so major--but those conversations can wait for another time. One thing I will talk about is my 40th birthday. It isn't for another year, but I had planned to do something fun to celebrate--like a big trip to Europe or something like that. But I thought about it, and I realized that I wanted something I could do during the whole last year of my 30s--something that would count and contribute to what I love to do (research/writing/anything literature related). So, instead of a grand trip to Europe, I am making sure that every single month (though December will be really tricky) I go to a conference, class/workshop, or event that is related to writing, research, or literary studies. This idea struck me in the middle of the night, and I suddenly felt really excited and happy and free--more so than I have in a really long time. I knew it was the right thing to do. So, that is what I am going to do. AND...luck folks that you are, you will be hearing about it, because I plan to blog as I go along. I know I will learn a lot--not just about things I am interested in but also about myself. It will be a great way to close out my 30s.

So far, I already have September and October planned. I have an all-day writing/editing workshop next Saturday, and then, the first of October, I am going to a writer's conference. Both of these were booked before I made this decision, but it is a good thing because it gives me time to plan. I am also going to a genealogy conference in October, too, so I am excited about two events in the same month! In November, I have my writing group's annual reader's luncheon. This counts...but I would also like to do something else in November, if I can.

I am planning to make at least one big trip to a large conference...likely something in Victorian literature...but I can't decide which one yet! So, I'm just going to make a huge list of EVERYTHING I want to go to and then narrow down from there. My ultimate dream would be to go to the Dickens Universe conference...but I don't know if that can happen.

Anyway, that is part of what I have been doing over the last several days. I'm excited to be back in my happy literature place. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Vacation: Day 5

It has been a day built around eating. I made a trip to Fresh Market this morning and bought steaks, veggies, coffee, and dessert. So, tonight, I grilled out, and we had a feast. Of course, this was after going for my usual Wednesday lunch with my grandmother at the assisted living center. Apparently, they had an Elvis impersonator today...AND I MISSED IT. This is cruel of the universe.

Other than that, I read a bit and wrote a bit. It's been a good day. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Yeah...let's hope so...


Vacation: Day 4

Ugh. This day. Exhausting and revealing in so many ways. Nothing dramatic or anything...just more signs from the cosmos (visible in small ways to no one but me, I guess) that things are in need of change. But that is a conversation for another time.

I've taken a small step into a larger project: I'm reading all of Dickens. I can't say "rereading" because I haven't read everything by him. I'm starting with Sketches by Boz and moving forward chronologically. I need more guidance about how to tackle the journalism, especially now that we just had some really significant leads and new additions this summer, so that will wait. I would like to read his letters alongside what he's writing at the time, so I need to make a trip to the library to get those. 

This is my first time to read Sketches by Boz, and I really like it. So many early portraits of characters to come. Such an amazing eye for surroundings and people. It is just fascinating.

Well, more later!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Vacation: Day 3

Wow. I really should have waited until really late last night to post! No, it isn't that anything super exciting happened, but I ended up watching Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte...and I was totally into the hot mess that is that movie! Wow. It was so over-the-top wonderful in so many ways.

Anyway, not much has happened of note. It has been a day of errand running. I did just attend a friend's book reception at the history department, and that was a lot of fun. I'm so proud of her! I couldn't stay long, but I am glad I was able to go.

Well, I am hoping for more energy and a better post tomorrow. I'm just kind of exhausted from the day's non-routine/running around!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Vacation: Day 2

Today was a fun day! I had a friend and fellow writing buddy signing books at Barnes & Noble, so I decided to make it a big family day. I loaded up the parents, and we went up to Flip Burger Boutique for lunch and then to the book signing. We all had the Oaxaca burger (AMAZING), and then we decided to have milkshakes...which always makes for a good day. (Yes, that would be me taking a picture of myself in the reflective ball is to the right.)

The book signing was great! My friend Nancee Cain was signing her book, and it was so great to see her there and signing as a published author! Dad was getting tired, so we couldn't stay too long, but it was a good time. Lots of laughter and relaxation, which is just what I needed.

I did take a short nap today, and then I went out to the assisted living center to visit my grandmother. And the evening was topped off by a fun phone call with my cousin, Jeff.

So, not a ton of thoughts to share today...just lots of fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vacation: Day 1

Today has been uneventful, and that is a good thing! I'm ready for a bit of calm in my life, so having some free time to write, read, and think is is a venti iced coffee. Clearly, my addition is being fed.

As for the book: I really enjoy Judith Flanders's work. I bought Consuming Passions when I was in Oxford the second time, and it was so much fun to read. If you like social history with a lot of details, then go for it. I'm excited to get started with this one (my vacation purchase). It has taken me a while to get to this point, but I have to say that I really miss engaging in Victorian studies. I've made it one of my goals to get back into it.

This summer was a rough one. There was a health scare with my mom (she's fine, thank goodness), and then lots of other things happened that added to the stress. Good times. During all of this, I realized that I really missed what I will call my "literary life." Of course, I still read as much as always (even though I am bad about blogging about it on here). But I missed being involved in the scholarly side of things. I was feeling really down about it until one of my former professors contacted me a few weeks ago. He teaches at a university out of state, and he is retiring after next semester. This semester, he is teaching his final online class with new material--a class on Oscar Wilde. I like Wilde and know a bit about him, but I haven't read as much of his work as I would like to have read. So, my former professor invited me to participate in his online class, and it has been exactly what I needed to kickstart my interest again and make me feel as if I am engaged in my favorite field. I would really love to go to a Victorian lit conference sometime in the next year, but I can't make my preferred conference this year. That is okay, though, because it gives me time to get some ideas ready and maybe get something ready to present. Either way, I am going to the conference next fall. It is always a good time and fun to engage. It is time to get busy thinking and writing!

I am also working on a novel. I recently made PRO with RWA, so I am excited about that. I doubt I will ever do anything with the manuscript I submitted to them, but it was a big thing for me to actually finish it and submit it. I started it years ago with NaNoWriMo, and finally decided that it was time to put it to good use. So, I finished it and submitted it. Yay! Now I can attend the PRO retreats at the national conference and have access to their blog posts, which are awesome. But anyway: I am working on a different book now, so we will see how that goes!

The last year has made me realize that the most important thing in the world (in terms of personal happiness) is to follow your bliss (as Campbell says). I haven't done this for a long time, and, because of it, every aspect of my life has suffered. It is time to get back to my passions and do what makes me happy. When I have done that, the most amazing opportunities come my way. When I ignore it, I am completely miserable.

So, those are my thoughts for today. :)

More tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Almost there...

In approximately three hours, I will be on vacation! Yay! One of my vacation goals is to blog every day. I am not sure I will have anything interesting to say, but at least it might help me make a move to get back into the habit of blogging again.

I plan to do a lot of reading and writing during my time off. I am so ready for this.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A New (to me) Reading Challenge!

So, the folks over at Book Riot, one of my favorite websites and podcasts, have created the "Read Harder" Challenge. Here are the challenge rules (which I totally ripped off by doing a copy and paste from the Goodreads group...but you can go read about the challenge here: Book Riot READ HARDER CHALLENGE):

There are 24 tasks in the Read Harder Challenge (or roughly two per month). You can tackle them in any order, make any changes, do them all in a month or spread them out over the year. Make the challenge yours!

1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25

2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

3. A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) (read 9/23/2015 The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories by Michel Faber)

4. A book published by an indie press

5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own

7. A book that takes place in Asia

8. A book by an author from Africa

9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)

10. A microhistory

11. A YA novel

12. A sci-fi novel

13. A romance novel  (read 9/5/2015 When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare)

14. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)

16. An audiobook  (listened to The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt...finished 10/6)

17. A collection of poetry

18. A book that someone else has recommended to you

19. A book that was originally published in another language

20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)

21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)

22. A book published before 1850 (Sketches by Boz 9/2015)

23. A book published this year

24. A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

and see the original post on Book Riot introducing the challenge here: 

So, yeah, obviously, I am starting this late in, I am making my own challenge dates (as suggested...thank you, BookRiot!) from August 26, 2015 -- August 26, 2016. Hopefully, I will finish long before then, but I will keep you posted! Also, if you are worried about searching for books that fall into these categories...DON'T!! There are great recommendations on the challenge site (HERE). Just click on the orange links in each line of the challenge, and you can search among recommendations!