Category Archives: Updates

Ukrainian Golden Tree!

Hey everyone, just a quick update for today: last week, I finished my Golden Tree!!!!  I made a quick video to celebrate:

And yes, it was a crazy coincidence, but I finished the Tree on Ukrainian Christmas. 🙂

Last week was also my first French Zoom meeting of 2021.  Having been away from speaking in French for a few weeks, I had a super hard time finding the words.  So I also made a French video talking about it (it was more for the practice in speaking).  Check that one out here:

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Hello 2021!

Hi everyone! How were your holidays?  Mine were quieter than normal, but still good.  I’ve always loved the holiday season because it’s a time when I reconnect with family and friends.  Since it wasn’t really possible to do so this year in person, I decided to send out Christmas cards instead.  I even got a few back in reply by the end of that week! (I couldn’t believe how quickly they travelled!)

But now it’s a new year, which means time to reflect on the goals I set last year (and set some new ones!) Last year I basically set the same smaller goals for myself as in 2019: I wanted to read 25 novel-length books, finish one of the RPG’s that I’ve started (although I specifically picked Memories for 2020), and work on two short stories (although I decided I was going to edit a few I’ve already written, rather than write new ones).  While I was successful with the first two goals, the short story editing unfortunately didn’t happen: I put it off, and then, when I was going to make a push to work on at least one during December, the book editing project I’m working on derailed that plan completely (which is okay – it was good to get some work on that done instead).  And ever since I started learning both Ukrainian and French when I was off work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of my time has gone towards language learning as well.

I wasn’t really sure what sorts of goals I should set this year because I honestly have no idea what 2021 will bring in terms of the pandemic (I am hopeful we’ll get through it this year, but who knows if a third or fourth wave might shut everything down again?)  I don’t want to overwhelm myself with ambitious projects (especially during this pandemic; some days I don’t want to do anything and that’s okay).  Plus, if I’ve learned anything during the last several years of setting goals, it’s that a few smaller goals are better for me (also, I still seem to get derailed over the course of the year even with those smaller goals!)

But I did know that accomplishing some milestones in both French and Ukrainian would be important.  Unfortunately it’s hard to quantify things like “be able to have a basic conversation” or “be able to have a deeper conversation.”  So I looked through the goals I set for myself during my random October planning session, and chose some concrete things to accomplish from that list.

So with all of that lead-up, here are my goals for the year:

  1. Read 25 of the novel-length books I own.  I know I can read 25 books in a year (I read 43 books this year).  But I keep getting distracted by shiny new books at the library, completely ignoring all the books I have here.  So I’m going to challenge myself to get through more of my books (of course, that will have to wait until I deal with the library books I’ve already got out…).  Whether they’re physical or on my Kindle, I want to get through 25 of them before the end of the year!
  2. Write a new story.  I feel like it’s been forever since I have, and I’d like to change that.  I don’t care what kind of story it is: a short story, a novel, an RPG, a podcast, a screen play, whatever.  I just want to work on something new!
  3. Language Learning goals:
    1. Ukrainian Duolingo tree to Gold (I’ve only got four more lesson bubbles to go!)
    2. Finish reading Short Stories in French for Beginners
    3. Finish reading 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts
    4. Read French Short Stories for Beginners
    5. Read French: Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners
    6. Read Ukrainian Language: Texts in Ukrainian
    7. Finish Ukrainian Lessons Podcast seasons 2-4
    8. Finish the Duolingo French tree (just getting to the end, not turning it to gold)

While it didn’t make the list, I’d also love to finish with the book editing project I’ve been working on since 2019.  Unfortunately that’s out of my hands (the original end date for that should have been last winter, but it was taking longer than planned even before covid hit).  So fingers crossed that it will finish this year, too!

So what about you?  Have you set any goals for yourself this year? 🙂

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Update: Mental Health and Book Editing

How’s it going everyone?  It just happened that my language videos were ready for my Tuesday update, so for this week I’ve moved the update to today.

I’ve missed making a few updates here, first because I was on vacation from work and just wanted a break from everything.  Then the following week was really rough; my mental health took a beating, and I didn’t have the energy to do much at all.  I’m in a better place so far this week, which I’m quite thankful for.

One thing that has also happened was that the book I’m editing, which was put on hold, is slowly creeping back to life.  It was put on hold during the Covid lockdown, but we now have a new plan in place to hopefully finish it off during 2021.  To that end, I’ve got to get some work done on it before January, so I’m going to be busy with that.  So other than the upcoming What Are You Reading post for December, I’m going to be taking a break from here for a couple of weeks so I can focus on that.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, and I’ll see everyone in 2021! 🙂

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Six Month Language Update!

Yesterday I decided to make a couple of videos to show my current speaking ability in both French and Ukrainian.  I was thinking that making a video would be a great way for me to document how I’m doing now, and give me a way to look back at my progress in a few months.  It’s already been about six months since I started learning Ukrainian (I started on Transparent Language on June 5th), and almost six months with French (I don’t know the exact date that I started with it, but it was on the last week of June that I ran through the Transparent French Quick Start Guide in like two days; I signed up for Duolingo on June 28th).

I attempted to make one video with both languages, but had to split it into two because when I got to the Ukrainian part, I kept saying French words and couldn’t think of the Ukrainian!  So here’s the French one, which was made earlier in the day (if you don’t understand French, you’ll have to turn subtitles on – I didn’t build them into the video):

I realized much later that I completely failed to use the past tense in the French video!  I have no idea how that happened as I’ve been able to use it before without much problem.  Oh well, next time will hopefully be better. 🙂

And here’s the Ukrainian one:

The Ukrainian video is longer, but overall I speak less Ukrainian in it; I fall into English a lot more in it than I did in the French video.  As I say in the video, I find Ukrainian takes much more work; I have a really hard time remembering new words. I’m hoping it’ll get easier as I go, but for now, I find I have to keep reviewing new words a lot (flashcards are definitely my friend!)

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Tuesday Update: Language Progress, Short Story Setback + Guest Hosting!

Hey everyone, how’s it going?  This week I made some great progress on my goals for the month! My Duolingo Ukrainian tree is now to red + (so I’ve got through all the lessons at least three times each; the ultimate goal is to get through all the bubbles 5 times, turning tge tree to gold).  I finished the second section of stories in 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts (these all involved “things” like pens and keys and stuff).  I started another story in Short Stories in French. And I passed the 6th Duolingo checkpoint in French!

I did experience a slight setback though where it comes to editing my short story for the month.  I’ve talked before about choosing the stories I wanted to work on for the remainder of the year.  Unfortunately, I came to the realization that one of the stories isn’t really a short; there’s so much more going on in it, that I think it needs to be a longer work of some sort (perhaps a novella or even a novel?)  A lot more work will need to be done on it than I initially expected because there’s so much more going on. So I made the decision to put it aside for now. 😦

So instead I’m going to see if I can whip the other story I choose into shape. I’ll also have to choose a second story for editing in the hope that I can still make that goal!  I don’t know if I’ll have time to edit two stories now, but I’m still going to try! Wish me luck. 🙂

Oh, and on Friday, I was once again a guest host on Thunder Bay Public Library’s weekly show Read This Next.  Nicole and I talked about the Massey Lectures (which I had been reading when we filmed).  We thought this was really topical as the 2020 Massey Lectures aired this month!  If you’re interested, check it out! 🙂

For this week, other than looking over that other short story, my main plan is to fit in more reading in Ukrainian, French, and English. What about you?  How’s November going? 🙂

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Remembrance Day Reading Accomplished + Language Learning Goals!

Last week, the only goal I set for myself was to read D-Day Girls: The Spies who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose (which I finished on Friday night!)   I was glad that I didn’t set other goals for myself because D-Day Girls was a bit of a tough read (particularly in terms of subject matter – there were a few points where I had to stop reading for a bit because of what happened to the people).

But even though that was the only goal I set for the week, I still managed to finish off a few of my November goals!  First I passed Checkpoint 6 in French on Duolingo!  That was super exciting – there are only two checkpoints left within the course!  Then I listened to the final episode of the first season of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast!  I’m excited to start Season 2 – I’m hoping it will help me improve my listening comprehension (I’m finding with Ukrainian right now that I have a super hard time understanding words that I’m hearing; if they’re written out for me, I often find that I did know more of the words that were spoken that I thought).

I also accomplished most of the goals I set for myself two weeks ago, with the exception of some work I wanted to do editing one of my short stories (I keep ignoring it in favour of my language learning).  As we’re now over half way through November, I’ll have to make a point of working on that if I still intend to work on a second story next month!

So how’s everything going for you?  Are you making progress on any goals you’ve set for the month?  Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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Reading For Remembrance Day

cover of d-day girlsA year or two ago, I remember my brother saying that on Remembrance Day, he tries to read a book about the World Wars. I decided this year to do the same. So while at the library, I picked out D-Day Girls: The Spies who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose. This book tells the story of three of the women who answered the call to war, becoming saboteurs in France. It sounds very interesting, and after reading The Huntress back in September, I am eager to learn more about the largely unknown women who helped in the Wars.

 

I’m hoping to make this a yearly reading tradition.

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October Goal Review

I didn’t set myself any major goals last week; I was on vacation from work, and just wanted to relax (and work a bit more on learning my languages!) Although I did manage to fit in some fun reading too (I finished The Gown by Jennifer Robson yesterday!) I was also excited to attend a virtual hour-long French discussion that is put on by a local organization.  At times I had a hard time following the discussion, but at other times I felt like I understood a fair bit.  This meeting is held weekly, so I am hopeful that my brain will be able to follow along with the discussion a bit better after attending a few. 🙂

But now that it’s November, I wanted to look back at the goals I set for October (or at least the second half of October – I set them on the 12th).  I set four goals for myself, and managed to completely accomplish three of them!  The only one I failed to accomplish was getting six Ukrainian Duolingo lesson bubbles to gold – I only finished five of them.  The sixth one I kind of lost interest in at the time, and started working on some of the other bubbles instead. All in all, I am very happy with what I managed to accomplish over these last few weeks!

I sat down last night to set goals for November, all of which support the 3 and 6 month goals I set last month, too.  These include editing one story I’ve already written, reading more short stories in French and Ukrainian, making more progress on the two language trees on Duolingo, and finishing listening to the first season of the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to complete all of these goals; the one I imagine will be hardest to meet is editing the story because that goal doesn’t have easy to follow steps like the other ones do (ie read one chapter of a story, or complete x lesson bubbles per week).

So how was your week? Have you set any goals for yourself this month? Have you made any progress on goals you’ve previously set?  Let me know in the comments! 🙂

PS Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo this month! 🙂

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Tuesday Update: Looked Over Some Old Stories :)

I finally did it: I sat down and started looking through some older stories that I’ve written. I’ve been meaning to do this for a few weeks now, so I was happy to finally make the time to do so! I found some interesting things in my notes too; one old story had some notes in the margins that I made for editing purposes, so that’s one I’m hoping to sit down with over the next few months.  And another one was very exciting – this was a story I started writing for a friend after his dog passed away (but I never gave it to him – it never felt good enough to be a gift).  I didn’t think there was much to the story, so I was surprised to see I’d added some stuff to it….specifically an unnamed, mysterious character who shows up to retaliate against the main character; my mystery man literally just says “Now we’re even,” and flees.

I still can’t believe that was in there!  Who the heck is this character and what the heck happened to them that they needed revenge like that???

So yeah….looks like I know what story I’m going to be working on! I don’t know if that stuff with the mystery man will stay, or be saved for a different story with those characters, but either way, I need to figure it all out. 🙂

On the language-learning front, I accomplished everything I set out to do this week.  I read more stories in both languages, played more Influent in Ukrainian, and continue to progress in Duolingo (I turned a few more Ukrainian lesson bubbles to gold – only 20 left for a golden tree!)

I also did manage to read a little bit for fun this week! My mom lent me her Kobo so I could read The Huntress by Kate Quinn last month; it also has The Gown by Jessica Robson, so I decided to start that rather than The Alice Network.  I sat down to read it on either Tuesday or Wednesday night, but the Kobo wasn’t working!  The screen was on and said it was at full battery power, but I couldn’t get it to do anything, even reset.  Finally I plugged it in and it started charging – for some reason it ran out of battery while still showing the home screen with a full charge!  So I wasn’t able to start reading that night, but I did get to it a few nights later. 🙂

So how’s your week been? Anything exciting planned for this week?

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Tuesday Update: Language Learning + Character Brainstorming

Hey everyone, how’s your week been? I set myself a few too many goals and didn’t get through them all. But that’s okay; I had a feeling I was being a bit too ambitious when I set them. So going forward I’ll have a better idea of what I can accomplish in a busy work week during this pandemic!

While I didn’t accomplish all of the goals I set for myself (I completely forgot to look through older stories I’ve written…), I still feel like I made good progress on the language front. I read a few short stories/chapters in both French and Ukrainian. I played around with a language-learning game on Steam called Influent – I need to work on my Ukrainian vocabulary, so I’m hoping it will help! And I even managed to finish watching season 1 of Les Revenants, which is a super good show in French (I watched it with English subtitles because my French is not good enough to follow media yet – I tried watching a movie without subtitles awhile ago, and if not for the visuals, I would have been totally lost!)

One thing that I was also very happy about last week (that was not a goal) was that I sat down and brainstormed a couple of new characters! I have a very vague idea at this point for what could be a series of stories set in a pub on one of my worlds. While I still have a lot of things to figure out about these characters, I was just happy to actually sit down and write a bit over the weekend. 🙂

Oh, and one thing I decided to add to my goals for this week: read for fun! I haven’t read a book in awhile (other than the French and Ukrainian books I’m making my way through), and the last few books I was reading were all for an article I was writing at work. So this week I want to make a point to at least start reading a fiction story of some sort with no pressure on myself. I’ve heard really good things about both The Gown by Jennifer Robson and The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and have been planning to read them for weeks. So hopefully I’ll actually start one of them this week! We’ll see how it goes.

So how about you? Any plans for the week? Reading anything fun? 🙂

 

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