Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but there are several fun things I want to share.

To Listen:

  1. Usually, I’d rather chew my arm off than listen to someone ramble and “um” at me for long periods of time (i.e., most podcasts) (short periods of time are fine – it’s really the prolonged, coulda-been-ten-years-shorter-without-the-fillers monologues that get to me), but the Talkville Podcast in which Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling (and various guests) are watching episodes of “Smallville” and giving commentary on them is really entertaining. It will be more entertaining if you were in this particular fandom when the show aired, but I suspect others enjoy it, too.
  2. BILATERAL STIMULATION. So soothing. So engaging. Use headphones for the full (i.e., bilateral) effect.
  3. Tiger D – my friend Sarah’s show on Kuzu on Tuesday nights. You can listen (tonight!) from 8-10 (CST) on kuzu.fm. I’m typically book-clubbing or working during most of it, but I occasionally catch it on the drive home or if I have a rare night off when no articles are due the next day.

To Watch:

  1. In addition to rewatching “Smallville” with Lex and Clark, I’m also rewatching “Alias.” I think I’m at the part where I stopped watching the first time, because so far, nothing in Season 4 is familiar. I still heart Marshall the most.
  2. “The Good Doctor” is good overall. I will watch anything with Richard Schiff in it, so there’s that. I’m not very far in at this point, but it’s interesting enough to keep watching.
  3. And I’m not technically into this yet, as I have not started it. But I trust Maggie’s judgment, and she loves “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” So I may start watching that soon.

To Eat:

  1. It is gourd season. I am in the mood for squashes, and there is a significant pumpkin presence on this month’s meal plan. Specifically, Joy the Baker’s pumpkin muffins and some kind of pumpkin/cannellini bean soup. Maybe also pasta with pumpkin sauce. We’ll see.
  2. It’s also roasted veggie season. Most sheet pan dinner recipes contain some sort of meat, but I just don’t know how they find the room on the sheet pan with all the bounty of fall produce. A pile of roasted veggies (a warm salad, if you will) makes a quick, delicious meal with plenty of leftovers. And it’s a nice balance to the cheese-on-everything I tend to eat otherwise.
  3. Breakfast for dinner has been happening at least four times a week lately. It’s just so easy. I lean toward savory breakfast foods, so we’re talking egg and cheese burritos, frittatas, fried eggs over roasted tomatoes and rice, and toasted egg sandwiches. Happy.

To Do:

  1. NaNoWriMo! I have a new character and a new story, and I like both so much I may turn this into a series. I hope to get most of the first draft of the first book done this month.
  2. Performing with some friends at Rubber Gloves next week. Should be fun! You should come if you’re in the area!
  3. Quiet, quiet, quiet evenings. I remember now what a regular writing practice does for my schedule and my mental health. This has been good for me in so many ways.

What are you into these days?

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November TBR

God bless the library.

October was definitely a mood-reading month. What that means is that I started a lot of books and finished relatively few. So I’m hoping to finish some of those this month, and I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo (coffeesnob is my username, if you are also NaNo-ing and want to be writing buddies), which is why the TBR for November looks short (-er than usual).

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges 

I’m mostly finishing up books I’ve started already for my challenges (maybe this whole year has been chock full of mood reading), but the word I’ve picked for the GirlXOXO keyword challenge is “down,” so I’m going to listen to It All Comes Down to This by Therese Anne Fowler.

Library Books

Just a few I have checked out from the library that I want to return this month:

OK, so the list isn’t short-short. But this gives me things to read when taking a break from writing the first draft of my new novelette (more on this later. Hopefully. We’ll see how it goes.).

Happy November!

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Books and mascots and dressing up for the intrawebs

That may be the most introvert-y title I’ve ever written.

In a lot of ways, this pandemic/work/socialize-from-home situation has been rough. My mental health is not its best self ever. Or, rather, it has been more work to take care of it. I don’t think prolonged isolation is good for anyone, and I’ve definitely had challenges that I expected as well as those I did not. I have needed to take many more precautions and call on more support than usual in order to function.

Other distinct pockets of my life have (dare I say it?) flourished. After the initial shock wore off (this is the theme, really), I have been able to adapt in several ways that sort of flow together but also are each their own separate issue:

  1. Reading – For a few months, I wasn’t able to concentrate to read at all. But now that I have at least an extra hour per night to add to my regular reading time that I was spending just driving from work and then to-and-from whatever meeting I had on that particular evening, I am reading about 100 pages a day. My reading goal took a hit from those missing months, but I may still read more books than I read last year.
  2. Productivity – Working from home makes me super efficient. Having more control over my work setting allows me to get through emails much more quickly, and I don’t feel rushed on phone calls. I miss my coworkers, of course, but my productivity (and thus my motivation) is thriving. We are closing one of our buildings at the end of the semester, and I was able to give significant help in getting those students moved over, and this would have been a lot harder/more stressful in the office.
  3. Sense of self – It’s been interesting to see the habits that have dropped off and stayed gone and the ones that I have either continued or picked up. I was surprised to see the things that I do, say, wear, etc., to make others more comfortable and things I do, say, wear, etc., to show up as who I really am. It will be interesting to see how (or if) I adjust back to old habits that I find stifling once I’m out in the public again most days.
  4. Consistency – Each month, I make myself a chart that has goals I want to focus on that month. It’s usually a mix of habits I want to build and the things I know I need to stay grounded and at peace. If you’ve been around here a while, you know my goals tend to be…lofty. But I’ve been meeting them better than usual. In fact, the last time I was this consistent with eating well, dancing, playing the keyboard, exercising, etc., was in my early to mid-twenties when I was performing regularly. While I’m not performing right now (well, not a lot – I do have a piece in the virtual SPIDERDEAD show tomorrow night), I am excited about how well I’ve been staying on track with things that are important to me.
  5. Creativity – All the others kinda lead in to this one. When I have the time (and the ability) to focus on what I want in life, my creativity thrives. I have so many project ideas, and I’ve been consistently writing toward my NaNoWriMo project. I also have a 31 days blog series coming up in December that I hope you will enjoy. I look forward to getting to collaborate with people again, but for now this will do.

I hope you are finding some moments of joy or clarity or focus or whatever you are needing right now.

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Sometimes I start longhand.

Andi Cumbo-Floyd’s second volume of Love Letters to Writers comes out on November 19, and I’ve had the privilege of reading an advance copy. I’m also reading/listening to Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can and not participating in NaNoWriMo this month but living vicariously through others who are. So I’m doing a lot of reading and thinking about writing but not actually doing a lot of writing (well, not the creative kind that I like to do, anyway).

As reading about writing usually does, though, today’s selections have ganged up on me to remind me of why I miss NaNoWriMo when I don’t participate. It’s not the goal itself (although that’s a fun challenge) but rather the daily practice.

I balked at the write-every-day rule for a long time because I had a rigid idea of what that looked like.But what these two books and the reminder of what a month of intense word count goals can do for my writing have conspired to teach me is that writing every day is more about consistency than anything else.

I could use some more consistency in my creative writing practice.

I’m not going to try to start late and catch up for NaNoWriMo (although that would be entertaining). Instead, I’m going to set a measurable goal, just like we do every Monday in Andi’s online writing group, of setting a time aside for creative writing every day for the rest of the year. Lauren Graham outlines Don Roos’s Kitchen Timer method for doing so, and I’m going to borrow some of that structure to help with the goal.

  1. Every Sunday night, I am setting specific times to write every day and putting them on my calendar, just like any other appointment. I am also going to keep in mind that 15 minutes is longer than I’ve written most days this year, so if that’s the time I have some days, that’s the time I have, and that’s okay.
  2. During each writing appointment, I have exactly two things open. A current creative project I’m working on and my journal.
  3. The rules:
    * No internet
    * No music with words
    * No sudden spurt of cleaning or organizing
  4. Spend every minute set aside writing. If I get stuck on the project, I can switch to the journal.
  5. When time is up, it’s up. This is the part that I’ve skipped in the past, and I think that was a mistake. It felt good to go on in the moment when I was on a roll, but it also helped me justify skipping the next day (or two or three). Then I got out of the habit of writing daily. But I’m going to honor the rest of my schedule by ending my appointment when it’s scheduled to end.
  6. Monitor progress, but don’t let it prevent future progress. If I miss a day, I need to not dwell on it. If I only write 15 minutes a day for two weeks, I need to take the “only” out of that sentence. I tend to take myself less seriously as a writer if I don’t feel like I’ve spent enough time on it (whatever that means to me at the time). The truth is, though, that many authors have written whole books in the 15 minutes a day that all their children were asleep at once. There’s no reason that time frame can’t also work for me.

If you were to thumb through my handwritten journal, you’d find a motley array of scribbles – blog ideas, story outlines, bad poetry (all my poetry is bad at first), floor plan sketches, recipe ideas, daydreams about how my ideal job would look, etc. Knowing it’s there as an option takes away some of the resistance to a set writing time that I often feel.

I think that fighting that resistance is going to be key. Keeping my writing appointment every day can answer that annoying voice that tells me I don’t care enough about writing to make it a priority. Overcoming that voice (with the occasional assistance of CBD gummies and a qualified professional) can help me fight the anxiety that stifles the creativity I need to work toward developing more focus on my projects.

Definitely looking forward to that.

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I am totally into the weather we’re having. It’s cool and fall-ish. So I’m going to ignore that it’s supposed to get to 91 degrees outside tomorrow. Not even going to mention it. I don’t know where you heard that.

This month, I was quite the joiner. I participated in Write 31 Days, of course. I was challenged to post seven days of black and white photos with no comment, but my comment is just that I loved doing that. The two above were my favorites. I also participated in Million Mile Month, although I definitely did not meet my goal.

Running is hard. And walking is slow.


My 31 Days project was about running (specifically, how to do it and not get maimed or dead). It was fun (the writing part – not so much the running part). I love the momentum it gives me to post more regularly. To keep that spirit going, I am going to start reviving old posts from my livejournal days. I hope that you will enjoy these little nuggets of nostalgia.

For November, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, although I’m being cheaty about it and working on a current project. I’m not allowed to start any other writing projects until I finish at least one of my current ones. I’m putting my foot down. So November will be focused on (and hopefully getting close to finishing) Fishbowl.


My favorite book I read this month – maybe this year – was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I love the characterization and the way it drove the story. I also re-read Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood PalThe library had the leather-bound version, and that was fun. Our book club from church had a lively discussion about the book.

I’m currently working through some Brene Brown (I’m on Braving the Wilderness) and reliving my childhood with The Boxcar Children. What are you reading?


Work is in its slowest season, so I took a week off from work this month. I visited my parents and tried to rest. Yesterday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door, and our church celebrated by participating in a Hymn Fest with three other choirs on Sunday. It was awesome. I enjoyed that a lot.

And last but not least – I know I’m late to the party on this but I am addicted to Burt Bees lipstick. My lips have been super dry lately, and this not only helps alleviate some of that but also makes me look fancy.

What are you into this month? Comment below or join us at Leigh Kramer’s link-up page.



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Superheroes and villains. Family and pie.

In other words – the essentials.

I spent NaNoWriMo fleshing out a new story wherein the main character is a superhero who currently has telepathy and mad combat skills. Her powers are up in the air – I had a lot of fun writing different scenes where she has different powers and seeing how that would play out. In the end, my favorite scenes (or the ones that I can actually piece together and make into a story) will probably dictate what her powers will be. I only finished about 10,000 words, but I love her, so this will be a story I revisit.

Of course, this meant I watched a lot of Smallville. You know, for inspiration. And trips down fandom memory lane. And eye candy.

Thanksgiving was fun but seemed rushed. I took the whole week off last week so that I could have two days of getting-things-done and be able to relax when we went to see the parents on Wednesday instead of spending the holiday making lists of all the things I needed to remember to do when we got home Sunday. Of course, like a fool, I then told people I took the whole week off, and because I would much rather have dinner and hang out with people I miss than clean my nasty apartment…well…that’s how that went.

You’re right. I totally told them on purpose.

To-do list completely not done, we left around noon on Wednesday to travel to the parents’ house. This was my view:

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Love that sky.

But I still managed to relax a little at Thanksgiving, although my lists on my phone are out of control now and I might never get them done. We had traditional fare and lots of dessert. I ate four different kinds of pie (over the course of the weekend, to be clear). There was coconut cream pie and chocolate meringue pie and lemon pudding pie and because that went so well (and so quickly), a chocolate pudding pie. There was also a pecan pie, but I am not a fan, so I left that one to others.

I really love pie, y’all.

The weather is finally exactly how I like it. Cold. And not the “cold” that some people start complaining about in late October when it dips slightly below 70. Like…ice has formed. I mean, not here. But at my parents’ house –

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Ice on the kitchen window.

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Frozen vines and icicles on the trellis in the backyard.

I didn’t read a lot this month, but it definitely had a theme to it. Holidays apparently make me want to look at my relationship with food. I picked Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi for my memoir/biography discussion for book club. She already had me at this:

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This is the best, rawest, most honest capture of what it’s like to have an eating disorder that I’ve ever read. Sometimes, it was like reading pages out of my own journals from my late teens/early twenties. It would be tempting to write a memoir on this subject from a heavy now-looking-back perspective – to rush to lessons learned and mountains moved. But she didn’t do that, and that’s why this book is so important. She takes you through the details of her thoughts and feelings, which, if you’ve ever thought and felt similar things, doesn’t give you the chance to say, “Well, that’s not me.” It hits you in the gut and makes you deal with it. I cannot recommend this book enough.

I also read a lot of Mireille Guiliano. I loved the food philosophy (i.e., common sense) of French Women Don’t Get Fat, so I tried French Women for All Seasons (I liked it…and found it charming that she included sections on how to tie scarves in each season…but otherwise meh) and Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire (I found some parts very useful and some parts very baffling). She reminds me a little of my mother.

So that’s what I’ve been into this month. What have you been doing/eating/reading?

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – click the button below and join us!

What I'm Into button

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In the interest of reaching even one of my meager writing goals set this week, here is your Friday Five:

  1. I’ve been writing as much as I can on my NaNoWriMo project, but that process is turning out to be molasses slow. It is clearer than ever that I need a computer at home if I’m going to have a book published before I’m 50. How did people even make this happen before computers? I’m in awe of them.
  2. There’s so much sadness and terribleness in the world. But it’s not just “out there.” It’s here. It’s in our country and in our hearts. I am saddened to know that the freedom of many citizens to practice their religions by welcoming the outcast has been denied them this week. I am sadder to understand what that means for the outcasts. I want to be angry, but then I look at my own couch, empty of any refugees or people in need, and I am force to look at my own practices. Am I welcoming people as I ought? My favorite post of the week is from A’Driane Nieves – We ARE the threat.
  3. I love superheroes, but I especially love this.
  4. My favorite couple on my current favorite show are a real couple in real life, and they’re having another baby.  *fangirl squee*
  5. Send more cat pictures. Especially ones where they don’t realize they’re being adorable. And  for those who wonder why cats gravitate to people who don’t want their love – finally an explanation.

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My Book

This is my favorite picture I’ve taken in a long time. I’m not sure what I was trying to do here, but it makes me laugh and laugh.

I do know where I’m pointing, though. On my shelves, that’s where my books – the books I’ll write – will go.

Like the books of the authors on the L Shelves, I will want to keep my nonfiction and fiction together. You can’t see it in the picture, but I’ve already left some space on this shelf for Tolkien to shift on down when I have my first published book in hand.

(I enjoy that my book gets to sit next to Tolkien on my shelf.)

I have two manuscripts started. This month, I’m working to finish Feast, and I will be starting back up in December writing more on Fishbowl. I have a story I wrote during NaNoWriMo one year called Emma Jane, which Maggie helped me realize was actually two stories, so I’m going to pick up one of those again (I guess the Emma portion) after I finish Fishbowl.

But in November, I’m going to take some of the Jane character and rewrite/add another dimension to her story. Or I may (read: most likely will) start over with that character and a whole new story line. Either way, I’m excited to get another story started.

“But Suzanne – doesn’t that slow down your writing process?” you ask.

Yes and no.

Yes, it takes longer to write two or three books than it does to write one. But – and this is why the process works for me – when one story is getting stagnant, I can turn to another, read a little bit of it, and write it with fresh eyes.

I do some of my best work that way.

And I promise, someday it will show up in that space on my shelf.

I’m taking (sometimes ridiculous) pictures of myself and my shelves and writing about it this month.

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I am taking liberties with the goal of NaNoWriMo this year. I am writing 50,000 new words, but instead of fiction, I am writing a book of prompts for a course I am planning to launch next April called Feast. Here’s a teaser of the course-to-be.

Sometimes life just needs celebrating.  And by “sometimes,” I do mean “pretty much all the time.” Any excuse for food, really.

This is my favorite reason to feast – nothing.  No reason at all. I am prone to making elaborate dishes on a whim to savor just for the sake of savoring them.  If you were to ask me what the special occasion was or why I was doing it, you would get an answer like, “Because…Tuesday,” or “Because I can.” I might even turn it around on you – “Why not?” It’s not that there isn’t a reason but rather that life itself is the reason.

You are alive.  Celebrate!

But it’s not quite that easy, is it?

The first seedlings of thought about this course sprung out of my need to bring celebration back into my everyday life. It’s so easy to go through the motions, looking forward to that next fun event on the calendar so much that I sail past all the rest of my days, eyes glazed and barely seeing everything that I’m passing by. If the next fun event is Friday night relaxing at home (and yes, this is on my calendar – it’s very important), and it’s Tuesday, that’s a whole lot of time to check out mentally.

This is no way to live. I want to make my days matter as much as possible. I don’t want to kill time until an acceptable hour to collapse into bed arrives. I want to live.

So I was going to call the class Celebrate because I wanted to explore all the ways we enjoy life.  While doing so is certainly part of the course, something was missing. Celebration alone didn’t seem like exactly what I was going for.  The word that kept coming up – the one that tied my vision together – was feast.

This was both exciting and terrifying.

I was excited because I love the idea of feasting. I love holidays where there is a ridiculous amount of food – ten times what the people present should actually ingest in the allotted time. I love the security and the hominess that excessive abundance implies. I love feeding people and being the one who supplies the ridiculous amount of food. I might not have a big house or a fancy car, but when you are invited over to my place, you will never leave hungry.

The excess is also the terrifying part.

Feasting and I have a sordid history. We can get a little codependent if I’m not careful. I love feasting so much that it’s easy for it to infiltrate my life on an identity level.

I was raised to be great at it. When people remark that hosting seems to come naturally to me, I take it as the compliment it was meant to be and say, “Thank you.” But let’s be clear – it’s not talent; it’s training. I have worked hard to become good at it, and I take a certain amount of pride in that. I love having people over, and they usually have a pretty good time. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s important to remember, however, that being a good host is a seductive minx to my ego, and because of that, it’s also important to remember that hosting the occasional flop does not define (and therefore cannot diminish) me.

At the heart of feasting is the food, and with the food comes the seedy underbelly of food issues.

In some ways, I do have a healthy relationship with food. I’m not really one for restrictive diets. I know a lot of them well, because when I have guests that are on limited choices, I prefer to know how to fix something they will eat without having to interrogate them about their dietary needs. I’ve been vegetarian or vegan at different phases of my life, but that was less a function of a plan to diet and more a function of a Lenten fast or having just read something like Fast Food Nation and thus simply losing my taste for meat. And I have to confess that I’m one of those annoying folk who, if I just eat like a normal person and get a moderate amount of exercise, the excess weight falls off pretty easily.

It’s that “eating like a normal person” thing that trips me up.

My issues with food are mainly emotional rather than physical. I am a chronic over-indulger. There are various things that I cannot keep in the house – soda, snack cakes, certain candy bars – because I cannot leave them alone. Since I am hypersensitive to sugar and most of my compulsive food choices are sweets, they’re extra bad news. I know in my head that having only one Kit Kat is the prudent choice, yet minutes later there I stand over four empty wrappers with a darty feeling behind my eyes, a budding headache, and no real memory of where one indulgence ended and the next one began.

I tremble to write that. As you are reading it, I am nervous, knowing that you know something that is a source of shame for me.

But shame doesn’t get to win.

I will remember that I am not what I eat.

I will remind myself that growth is a process and that by my mid-twenties, I had overcome my habit of bingeing to the point that purging was not physically optional.

I will go look at my well-stocked kitchen, full of real food, not junk food, and I will declare aloud, “I did that.  I made those good choices.”

And I will sit here and savor my half a glass of wine and my two little squares of decadent dark chocolate. And I will be satisfied.

And then I will drink a bucket of water, because wine dries me out. I will listen to my body and give it what it needs.

I will honor who I am, where I came from, and how far I’ve come. I will celebrate myself. I will feast.

Just because.

Journal prompt: What do you need to celebrate about yourself today? Where can you show yourself a little more kindness? What do you need to acknowledge?

Activity prompt: Go for a walk for a minimum of five minutes.  Don’t come back from the walk until you have noticed at least five things that you think you would normally miss. Go out and see your world today.

Marvia’s prompt for this Real Talk Tuesday is “celebration,” so I’m linking up over there as well.

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