Tag Archives: writing

Hello 2022!

Hi everyone, Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good! While mine were once again quiet, they were great. I was able to spend some time with friends and family (albeit in smaller gatherings than in a non-pandemic year). I didn’t send Christmas cards like last year though – I don’t know what was going on, but I just felt so not-on-top of things this year, even though I was on top of all of my other holiday preparations.

I’m also very hopeful that 2022 will be a good year, and maybe even see the end of this pandemic. We shall see!

But now it’s time to reflect on my goals from last year, and set some new ones for the year ahead. For 2021, I set three goals: Read 25 Books I Own, Write a New Story, and work on some Language Learning (mostly reading various books). I’m not going to lie, I completely forgot about setting that last goal (and the whole list of books I wanted to read).

2021 list of books I read that I own
These are the books I own that I read – language books counted, too!

My book goal ended up interesting. I read more than 25 books this year (on Goodreads I read 30, although about three of those were graphic novels, so they don’t count towards my goal here). I read 16 books that I own (plus those three graphic novels). But all through the year, I found myself actually buying new books and reading those, which completely negated the point of this goal! (I think only 3 of those books were ones I’ve owned for more than one year). So I’m going to attempt to redo this goal in 2022 but without buying so many new books!

I didn’t end up writing a new story this year. 😦 I honestly wasn’t very creative at all during 2021. :/ A lot of that is because I was working on the editing project all summer, and when it paused during the fall, it took a long time before I felt even able to work on something more creative. But by the end of the year I was feeling better, and did some work on a very old story that for some reason I was feeling inspired to work on (the story I started working on during 2012’s Script Frenzy). I don’t remember where the idea came from, but I totally revamped the story (and it all clicked into place when I read the backgrounds of the original characters). I reread the original script (which I surprisingly really enjoyed, even though it was never finished), and started working on revamping the characters. As part of that, I also did some worldbuilding that I’m really happy with. I’m looking forward to continuing working on this story in the new year!

Finally, my language learning goal. I turned my Ukrainian Duolingo Tree to gold in January, so that was a very early win. 🙂 I haven’t finished the French tree yet. I actually have been going back and turning the tree to gold (I changed my thinking about turning the tree to gold – rather than quickly finishing lessons and moving on to something new, by taking the time to turn each lesson to gold, I find they’re staying with me a lot better!) I’ve almost turned everything up to checkpoint 4/the start of unit 5 gold, so that’s fantastic progress! (Before I went back to work on the tree in this way, I had made it to halfway between checkpoint 6/unit 7 and checkpoint 7, so I have about 2 full units to go until I’m back to where I was).

Of the books I wanted to read, I finished three from the list: Short Stories in French for Beginners, French Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners, and 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts. I also read 101 Conversations in Simple French, which was surprisingly super fun (it was pretty much all dialogues!) I’ve attempted French Short Stories for Beginners, but for some reason it’s really hard, so I’ll have to come back to it later. And rather than read Ukrainian Language: Texts in Ukrainian, I ended up starting First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners, which I’m really liking. It starts off with super simple texts, then gradually works up to longer and longer ones. It’s making me feel confident that I CAN read in Ukrainian (I still kind of panic when I see a full page text in Ukrainian, thinking “I can’t read this!!!”) Oh, and I’ve also read three Ukrainian kids books by Chatty Parrot (the two listed in this post, and one with winter words).

Oh, and I’m still somewhere in the middle of season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast. That’s been fairly slow going because more often than not I’m listening to music in Ukrainian instead when I walk to work.

One other thing with French – I started getting two hour lessons every week thanks to a local organization. These lessons are immersive – the teacher tries to explain everything in French, and only uses English is that fails. I’ve been doing those lessons for about two months now, and I’ve noticed my French oral comprehension has been skyrocketing as a result (which is super encouraging because that was my biggest problem area)! I still struggle with speaking, but that will come in time. 🙂

Something else that happened this year too: I’m now learning a bit of American sign language. This started during the fall. My sister-in-law was learning with her sister in a really low-key way (they just look at a video every week to learn a few more signs). I’ve been interested in learning because I have a family member who is hard of hearing (and who has a hard time hearing me in particular), but they’ve never been interested before when I’ve asked. When we were all talking about it, they agreed to learn, so I said yes, too! With the caveat that it’s language #3 for me, and won’t be getting as much attention as my other two. So now I know some very basic sign language as well!

So that’s been 2021 in a nutshell. Things didn’t go at all as planned, but that’s okay! I still was able to accomplish a bunch, and even some things I hadn’t planned at all. 🙂

And now it’s time to look ahead for 2022. We’re still in the pandemic, so it’s difficult to really know what the future brings. And some things (like the editing project, which is still ongoing) are outside of my control. So with those caveats, here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish this year:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books I _already_ own – Like last year, I want to challenge myself to read the books I own right now. These books can be either physical books or eBooks (I still have a lot on my Kindle, too!)
  2. Continue working on my story from Script Frenzy – I would love to have at least a first draft of whatever form this story takes by the end of 2022 (I’m currently thinking it should be a novel, but who knows – it started life as a screen play!)
  3. Work on a new story, too – I have ideas for another story that I’d like to flesh out, even if it doesn’t become a first draft by the end of the year.
  4. Language Learning Goals:
    1. Turn my Duolingo French Tree to gold up to what I’ve unlocked so far (I’ve currently unlocked up to the bubbles “Get Well” and “In Class” in Unit 7)
    2. Finish reading 101 Conversations in Intermediate French
    3. Finish reading First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners
    4. Choose and read another book in Ukrainian
    5. Choose and read another book in French
    6. Finish season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast
    7. Finish season 3 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast

I don’t want to overwhelm myself with goals, so I’m only going to set these four. I also feel like I have a better feel for what I can accomplish in terms of language learning this year. If I have time for more French and Ukrainian books, then great, but if not, that’s okay too (especially since reading time in other languages competes with reading books in English).

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

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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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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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#WriteTuesday – Wading Through Old Notebooks

Over the weekend, I visited my parents and we watched Gone in 60 Seconds (the newer one, with Nicholas Cage), a movie none of us had seen in awhile.  Part way through it, I was reminded of some old characters that I’d created many, many years ago, but I couldn’t remember their names.  So after I got home, I went on a quest through some of my old notebooks, wondering if I could find anything on them.

I haven’t actually looked at any of my old notebooks for quite some time.  I’ve scanned a few of them (which I have not looked through for those characters yet), but the others are sitting in a bin in the basement, still waiting to be scanned.  I wasn’t really sure where, if anywhere, information on those characters might be, so I picked a notebook at random and just started flipping through it.

The first notebook I flipped through started out as a sort of journal.  It was kind of fun to go back and flip through my thoughts from so long ago.  The other ones were a bit more typical for me: sometimes they had thoughts about what was going on, but more often they were full of story and character ideas.  I was blown away by the amount of them that I encountered that I’d completely forgotten about!  I’ll definitely need to see about bringing some of them to life, maybe even later this week (I’m trying to stay as socially isolated as I can right now; while I’m currently doing a bit more reading and house stuff, I’m hoping that by the end of the week I’ll be writing a bit more!)

Stay safe everyone, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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ThunderCon Pictures Now Uploaded!

watermark I made for my photosIt took quite a bit longer than I expected, but I have now edited and posted the Day 2 pictures I took at ThunderCon last weekend! The Day 1 pictures were all posted to both Facebook and my Flickr page straight out of the camera (I wanted to get them up on Facebook that night so there were pictures showing people what they missed and might look forward to on Day 2). But the Day 2 photos included some pictures for ThunderCon sponsors (which have not been posted anywhere), so I wanted to make sure they looked good. My dad sat down with me to help with the photo editing on Friday night, then I finished up on Saturday (it took all day, on and off, to get through them all!) I also created a watermark for my Day 2 pictures (the SK Photography logo pictured). The pictures are all on both ThunderCon’s Facebook and my Flickr page, so check them out if you have a minute!

So now that ThunderCon is over, I’m turning my attention to the big project I mentioned in June: I’ve been contracted to edit a nonfiction book! 🙂 I’m super excited about it (and kind of terrified because it’s so much bigger than anything I’ve edited before).  I’m also writing a chapter that’ll appear in the book, so all around it’s a very exciting project for me. 🙂

My first order of business though is to figure out how to write the chapter in an engaging way. I finished a first draft a little while ago, and right now it’s very boring to read (it’s literally just the timeline of events typed up into prose). I started researching how to improve my prose in earnest yesterday; I even asked Twitter for some advice on the subject (but haven’t received any replies). I think a lot of my problem is that I’m writing about a place rather than people; writing about people usually lends itself a bit more to story (in my mind anyway). So yesterday I started reading the other chapters in an attempt to see how everything will fit together as a whole (and to see what exactly the story is that we’re all telling).

Have you ever written any nonfiction? How did you make your prose engaging? And as always, what are you working on? 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Goodbye Sustainably North

Apologies for missing last week’s #WriteTuesday.  I was dealing with some health stuff and wasn’t at all thinking about blogging or any other writing (and honestly was having a bit of a hard time concentrating on stuff).  So I’m dealing with that now and altogether feeling better (I don’t want to get into any details on it, but I have type 1 diabetes and was having a lot of low blood sugars).  It’s going to take a bit of work, but I should have things back to normal soon (and I’ve already seen a difference – I mowed the lawn over the weekend without going low! That was a hugely positive step!)

While I was dealing with everything, I was also kind of thinking over my priorities and goals for the future.  I really do want to get some of my game and writing projects finished.  But I keep putting them off, in large part because of the pressure of having Sustainably North going consistently (both writing-wise and reading-wise thanks to all of the books I’ve been reviewing there, too).  I’ve bought a few books on blogging that I had every intention of reading before now in an effort to improve the blog, but I’ve been putting them off, too (generally in favour of the reading I’ve done for Sustainably North, which I don’t regret – I’ve read some extremely interesting books on the environment, which I probably would not have read if not for the blog). But between Sustainably North and a few special projects I’m working on at work (which I am very excited about), I feel like I’m stretched too thin right now.  Something has to give.  And unfortunately, even though I have really enjoyed writing the blog, it has been too much of a time sink, taking away from the other projects I would really like to see done.  Plus if I don’t put even more time into it (through reading those blogging books), right now I lack the tools to improve Sustainably North.  😦

While the decision to stop working on Sustainably North was made over the weekend, it’s been on my mind for at least the last month, if not even longer.  As I said back in June, I have other projects that I want to finish.  And I have a large project potentially lined up for the fall (which is not official yet though), so I’m very aware that time is going to be at a premium for me soon.  So something really does have to give.

So while I am proud of the fact that I’ve been consistently posting on Sustainably North for over a year, it’s unfortunately time to say goodbye to it, at least for now.  I’ve paid for the hosting until the end of the year (which is honestly the reason I didn’t give it up sooner than this).  But after a talk with my brother about it, I decided that it was okay to let it go now, rather than continuing to stress out about it.  I told another friend about my decision and he suggested that maybe I should just take an indefinite break from the blog.  I suppose that’s an option to consider, especially since I have paid for the blog hosting until the end of the year.  At the very least, I intended to save the blog’s XML files (and possibly move it to a free WordPress site at the end of the year).  But that’s a decision I’ll make down the road.  But for now, this is goodbye to the blog. 😦

If you’ve been reading my posts on Sustainably North, thank you so much for supporting it!  There are still posts scheduled until the end of the month, so you’ll still be able to read a little bit more new content on the blog if you’d like.  🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Actually Feeling Productive!

Sorry, this is a bit later than normal. I meant to write this sooner, but I’ve had a pretty busy day and just sat down to write now!

So this has been my first week where I simply focused on Sustainably North as my writing project, without the added pressure of the Make Your Way story.  And I have to admit: it felt really good to take that added pressure off of myself.  I also had a book I wanted to read (Sharon Shinn’s Jeweled Fire, which I absolutely loved!) so reading kind of took priority over writing.  But I managed to get yesterday’s editorial post written, plus I found some quotes for the next three Fridays on Sustainably North.  I didn’t get any other posts written like I had planned to, but that’s okay – I still feel like I’m doing loads better than I have been over the last few weeks!

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to just focus on the Make Your Way story this coming week like I had planned because I have to get a few more Sustainably North posts written.  So I’m going to see what I can get done tonight for the blog, with the hopes of turning my attention later in the week towards the story.  But whatever happens this week, the Make Your Way story is going to be my priority for next week!

So how about you?  How are things going? 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Back from Vacation!

Hi everyone – thanks for the birthday wishes last week! 😀

Originally I thought I was going to get some work done last week.  But between my birthday and going away with my family for a few days to the Bluefin, I ended up taking the entire week off.  It was a much needed vacation, but now I’m back and working on some writing once again.  I didn’t get any work done on the Make Your Way story, but yesterday I did get the last few June posts written for Sustainably North, so that was exciting.  I need to get going on the July ones because this month is already half over!

So I just got word that I’m going to be working on a project this fall (I’m not giving any details here until after everything is finalized).  I’m very excited about this opportunity, but now I’ll need to decide on what my priorities are going to be for the rest of the year.  I had a rough plan for up until December, but that will necessarily have to change.  So over the next week I’m going to try to work on that (along with getting the July posts for Sustainably North written); if I have some time, I’ll do some work on the Make Your Way story.  I hate to put it aside for another week, but that might be necessary – we’ll see how things go! I’ll also need to rethink my Sustainably North plan for August; I was thinking of doing a bunch of book reviews, but I’m going to change that, too.  It’s going to be another busy week!

So how about you?  What’s new?  What are your plans for the upcoming week?  🙂

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