Going Out and Coming In

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Treasures that need a little TLC, but the previous owner kept the blades sharp. The plate beneath them is one of my own creations.

Last week I dropped a carload of books, household goods, and the remainder of my DVD collection to the parish rummage sale. Last year I was reluctant to let go of some things, so I kept them but resolved to read, watch or use them.

I didn’t, so away they went.

Later I went to the sale and (of course) looked for my former possessions.  Other than an electric teakettle and a few philosophy books, nothing remained. There’s a kind of thrill in knowing someone else has found a use for one’s donated belongings.

Continue reading

Book Review: Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke

Note : This is a review I wrote and forgot to post a loooong time ago. Mea culpa.

Gerke, Jeff. Write Your Novel in a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What to Do next. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest, 2013. Print.                          

Summary: A fast-paced guidebook that incorporates and condenses much of Gerke’s previous material

Having recently The First 50 Pages, I skipped half of this book after I recognized the first nine chapters as a condensed version. See my previous review for details.

I must mention Gerke’s continued use of film examples in his guidebooks about writing novels. He’s gotten bolder, going so far as to write, “I do that without apology” (9) in the introduction. Too bad he’s using the same examples as The First 50 Pages. Fortunately, he’s added Game of Thrones (TV adaptation) to keep it fresh.*

The bigger issue is that he doesn’t really give much in the way of “what to do next” if one does, in fact, finish a novel in 30 days.

Book Project Conclusion: 

Gift to the Library


*I never watched it because I have no cable, only Amazon Prime. If he had used Justified, however…

 

September 2018 Progress Report

It was the best of times, it was the mediocrest of times. (NOTE: not a real word)

Budget Planning

My dearest, oldest friend laughed when I told her about the no-spending challenge. To paraphrase, she thought I was just asking for trouble. After paying for a transmission repair, dry cleaning, and bandages and ointments, I agree! That’s not including the waste of money on groceries like beans and grains I cannot eat on restricted diet.

I will not go into the details. Suffice to say that my savings account dropped drastically.

Home

I need a plumbing inspection, a survey, and an estimate on a shed. Due to budget constraints, I contented myself with collecting papermill boxes (free!) to serve as weedblockers when I transplant plants.

I also gathered acorns to put out for the squirrels this winter. Bonus: fewer seedlings sprouting from various and sundry places.

American Life Cleaning VS the Middle School Mafia

Faithful readers may remember that last year The Young Human Factory shuffled the duties of employees, resulting in my new position as a Quality Control Inspector for the self-same hooligans that terrorize the neighborhood. This year, there are MORE widgets stuffed into my room.

They are like adorable deranged monkeys on Kickstart, Redbull, and whatever bad-idea beverage they can get their paws on.

Case in point: Last year, a boy got in trouble for picking paint off the walls while a substitute was covering the class. This year, while I was in charge of the room, one of the teeming horde continued the deconstruction. It dug through the blah beige of the Nineties, through the turquoise of the Eighties, and down to the Seventies’ persimmon orange.

I had to halt the production line and proclaim a Bold New Strategy(tm) of historic site preservation before anyone passed the psychedelic Sixties and reached deep enough to break through the brick and into the Tenth Dimension.

On the flip side, they say thank you and please and I spend only a couple hours each day contacting their progenitors, the discipline officer, and law enforcement.

But as a result, I come home and achieve little besides daily chores. Better luck this month!

August 2018 Progress Report, Part I

I had possibly the worst circumstances I’ve ever had for progressing on my goals. The antibiotic I took at the beginning of the month made me photosensitive and lightheaded. The final one gave me side effects that interfered with digestion and sleep.

As much as possible, I rolled with the punches. Wide awake at 2 am? Time to spackle the bathroom walls. Too dizzy to stand on a ladder? Work at the table.

In the end, I got quite a lot done. Continue reading

Book Review: The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke

Gerke, Jeff. The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers and Set Up Your Novel for Success. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest, 2011. Print.

Summary: A guide to writing a novel beginning that hooks readers.

Jeff Gerke writes fiction under the pseudonym Jefferson Scott but teaches at writers conferences and writes advice under his own name. I bought a few of his guidebooks on the recommendation of honest-to-published authors. This is the first I’m reviewing for my ongoing Book Project. Continue reading

An inside job

I have written very little since my last check-in. I had guests, visited family, and started an intensive paper-taming project. How intensive? I had to “rest” the shredder until special-ordered lubricant arrived!

The weather inspired me to tackle this dreaded task. I started sorting files and editing content during record-breaking heat.  On rainy days, I hole-punched, created dividers, and labeled 3-ring binders. As I finish this project, flood watches are in effect. (Thankfully, I see no sign of locusts.)

The objective was to create a time-saving system for handling important paperwork like medical records and legal documents. However, the bulk of the files contain newspaper clippings, acceptance letters, and oh-so-many unpublished pages!

I wanted to rebury them as soon as I unearthed them – as I’ve done many times before – because they inspire strong emotions. Continue reading

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Kondo, Marie. Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Trans. Cathy Hirano. Berkley: Ten Speed, 2011. Print.

Summary: A cheery little book that walks the reader through culling one’s belongings

Now that I’ve had a chance to “do the book” aka the KonMari Method, I can review it. It’s quirky, written like a conversation sprinkled with anecdotes. I enjoyed it, particularly Kondo’s folding method, which helped me organize La Casa de Tontería’s  linen closet of doom. (However, she did a poor job of explaining it. See related link below.)

I’ve read many books on organization (not to mention having time-management seminars and work-efficiency training – oh, the corporate world!)  Yet I still found interesting variations on the theme.

Sort By Category

Forget moving clockwise through a room or tackling one space in a weekend. Kondo calls for dealing with one category at a time, starting with clothes and ending with sentimental items.

Reading this, I felt nostalgic for the days of spring-cleaning my bedroom, where everything but my bicycle “lived” with me. I used to empty my closet and dresser onto the bed, try everything on, and ta-da! only the best were kept.

Kids will love this, and her Rule of Thumb regarding papers: Throw them out!

However, adults have to hunt for like items all over, including storage areas for off-season clothes. Kondo is tough about getting  everything from the category.

“You can forget about any clothes you find after this. They’ll automatically go into the discard pile.” I let them (my clients) know I’m quite serious. I have no attention of letting them keep anything found after the sorting is done.

Yikes! Long-time readers will understand how I felt when I decided to use the KonMari Method on books.

Everybody Thing Get On the Floor! (Walking Dinosaurs and Shaking One’s Booty are optional)

Yes, the floor. My klutziness instantly recognized a good way to trip and die!  Imagine the challenge it poses for parents of small children. Not to mention cluttered people already have difficulty clearing floorspace.

However,  Kondo insists on it.  Items in their natural environment (shelf, closet) “remain unseen, just like a praying mantis still in the grass, merging with its surroundings” (p. 87). She notes that if books are already stacked on the floor, moving them to another location will allow the tidier to really see them. Continue reading

The Book Project continues…

Have you ever noticed that when you decide on a course of action, serendipity comes into play? Something similar happened when I started the Book Project.

First, the library started taking donations for its March book sale. It’s hard to give up books, knowing may never see them again.  But our librarians are thrifty. If my donated book is particularly interesting or in better shape than a book in their collection, it will end up on the shelf.

I started bagging books that someone else might enjoy. I filled three bags!

Second, I got a free copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I can’t say it was on my reading list. In fact, so many people were discussing it, I felt as if I’d already read the Cliff Notes and listened to the audio commentary!* Continue reading

Book Review: This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley

Mosley, Walter. This Year You Write Your Novel. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 2007.

Summary: An unpretentious book for the beginning writer

I rediscovered this book behind some others when I cleaned a shelf – not surprising that it slipped away since it’s just 111 pages, including index.  It’s a collection of elements related to writing a novel – not publishing, not marketing – and recommendations of how to complete a final draft in 12 months. Continue reading

More bibliophiles in the world…

Found another one here, musing about “Why Books are the Best Furniture.”

As an aside, exam week and a few other complications left me little time for book-nookery. I relocated all recipe books to the first cubby on the bookshelf… at least, all the ones I’ve found so far. I’m sure there’s a “Company’s Coming” book for slow cookers around here somewhere.