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With 2017 in the works, I’m starting some new things, though I’m not making resolutions, because they usually are pointless. I am setting intentions and acting on exciting changes. It has been a lovely, protracted holiday season, and I will miss it – it’s my favorite time of year. Here’s a sunset towards the end of our strange last year, to usher the old out and the new in. I hope you feel hope and positive change (yes, I did that) for the coming months. And of course, as always love and joy.
Quote of the day: “I’ve always found that the most beautiful people, truly beautiful inside and out, are the ones who are quietly unaware of their effect.” — Jennifer L. Armentrout
Feeling like a lovely married couple
Dogs in shop windows
My surrogate daughter
That Kelsea returns from Ireland tomorrow (though not to me)
Two workouts today
A new year means a new list of books read! There’s never enough time for reading. This is what I made it through last year. I’ll keep this post up on the “Books” tab as well. I know I’m missing some that I took to Anegada and Topsail, so if I find my notes about them, I’ll update this.
While I’m not very good at the typical reviews, I think you can tell what I liked and what I didn’t, so if it looks like I liked something, well, go read it, because it was wonderful! And ask if you have any questions. Happy 2013 reading!
BOOKS READ IN 2012
Dr. Mortimer and the Aldgate Mystery by Gerard Williams. (223 pp.) In the Holmes genre, this Victorian mystery was only fair. The plot was simple and complex at the same time, and didn’t feel fully developed. It was as if Williams thrust in too many characters and did not fully develop any of them.
Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On! by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (304 pp.) A Christmas gift from my 2-year old neice, this quick-to-laugh-at book takes me back through the carefully touched-up roots of my Southern upbringing.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Ausen (272 pp.) The classic Jane Austen, it was tough to get through, but good. I wonder if I would have liked it as much had I not seen the movie (doesn’t that sound shallow?) It’s just that the language was a bit of a challenge. Ms. Austen did not stir my emotions like the Bronte sisters can.
Hearts and Bones by Margaret Lawrence (344 pp.) A good, slightly frustrating romantic mystery set in Colonial Times.
An Opened Grave by L. Frank James (230 pp.) I love a good Sherlockiana book. And this was AWFUL. It was just….dumb. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was so far-fetched and foolish. I didn’t want to finish it but I did.
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma (611 pp.) Wonderful! Can’t wait for the sequel. And the fact that it’s translated from Portuguese (I think), makes it even more amazing.
The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King (372 pp.) A continuation of a previous book, it felt like they were sort of stretching for money by making this into a second bood. Again, a bit of a frustrating read, though I generally like Laurie R. King.
Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders (366 pp.) I liked this. I love this series. A little more supernatural than the others, but still fun.
Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson (278 pp.) I had read this years and years ago, but had forgotten, and I enjoyed reading it again. The first in the Sarah Brandt midwife mystery series.
More Information Than You Require by John Hodgman (656 pp.) I think this is the second John Hodgman book. I loved the first one. I didn’t really like this one. It just felt silly and repetitive of the first one. It was hard to finish and became a “bathroom book”.
The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald (287pp.) The true tale of a woman who moves west with her husband as he starts a chicken/egg farm. Somehow or other, this book is the inspiration for “The Egg and I” restaurant chain. I enjoyed it. It did reflect the mores of society of the time, and was very anti-feminist, slighly racist, and frankly, her husband seemed like a total ass-hat. But that was then. It was a great and entertaining glimpse into an era that’s now past.
The Lost Duchess of Greyden Castle by Nina Cooms Pykare (320 pp.) This was a classic mindless gothic novel with the woman running away from the castle with the light in the window cover art. Girl marries brooding man, threats are made on her life, they’re in a remote castle with a cray-cray family, and she’s sure it’s her husband who’s out to get her, but no…..
The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne (239 pp.) This was fabulous. It was the only mystery ever written by A.A. Milne, the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh tales. It’s a shame it’s the only one he ever wrote, to please his father, who loved mysteries.
The Old Reliable by P.G. Wodehouse ( 217 pp.) Can you imagine? A P.G. Wodehouse I’ve never read? It’s true! MKL bought it for me. It was…ok. But even with it being just ok, it was a treat to read a new-to-me Wodehouse.
The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler (323 pp.) A Peculiar Crimes Unit series entry, I love this series — so creative and quirky. The books are surprisingly hard to find. But definitely on my list. You’ll like them if you like a little bit of modern English mystery fixed with sci-fantasy dribbles.
The Complaint of the Dove by Hannah March (266 pp.) I liked the hero in this one – an English tutor and pretty cool guy in a Georgian England setting.
The Dancing Star by Berta Ruck (337 pp.) Somehow or other, I got enveloped into WWI fiction novels this past fall, generally romantic triffles written by women with three names and a slightly feminist bent. While this was a two-name woman, she is my favorite of those I read. The writing was lyrical and felt new, as if woman writers had never expressed themselves this way before.
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (509 pp.) I think this is Deanna Raybourn’s first novel. I liked it, but it felt slow and shallow for a long time, only picking up in the last 150 pages or so. But the plot was pretty good. I’d try her again.
Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood (176 pp.) The first novel featuring Australian detective in the 1920’s Phryne Fisher, this was light, fluffy, fun with a risque rogue heroine.
The Distrubing Charm by Berta Ruck (179 pp.) Another WWI romance, and a wonderful one.
Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan (324 pp.)
Murder in Mill Town by P.B. Ryan (276 pp.)
Death on Beacon Hill by P.B. Ryan (276 pp.)
Murder on Black Friday by P.B. Ryan (244 pp.)
Murder in the North End by P.B. Ryan (288 pp.)
A Bucket of Ashes by P.B. Ryan (288 pp.) This series of P.B. Ryan books was probably my favorite historical mystery series that I’d read in years. Each book was great in itself, I LOVED the heroine, and at the end, the author wrapped the series up neatly. I was sorry there wouldn’t be more books, but super happy about the books in general.
Miss Million’s Maid by Berta Ruck (407 pp.) A fun WWI-era lovey romp.
A Wicked Wager by Anna Wylde (240 pp.) A romantic comdey-ish Georgian mystery.
I feel like I am at a fork in the road.
Yes, I’m having to regroup, to forge new dreams, or decide on pursuing my long-standing dreams on my own – or both. I need a few winter clothes – I had made a point of not buying any because I had in my head that I wouldn’t really be hanging around for much more cold weather. Well, looks like I’m here for another season, so might as well stay warm.
But I digress…
I would LOVE to make my own freelancing business work. I haven’t put any heart into it. Zip. Zilch. Zero. I’ve been writing a lot, and loving it, but I haven’t been doing business writing. Just working on the novel, and a chapbook. And those things are going to pay off. But for right now, I am wondering if I need to do something different – which translates into a real-life, full-time job.
I’m not adverse to the idea – not wholly. I am usually emotionally better the busier I am. And I’ve been pretty isolated since I left full-time work. I was just really hoping NOT to have to work for anyone again. So I guess I’m thinking out loud here, about the different tines on the fork that is in my way.
Tine #1: I can really set down to find freelance writing work. That means talking to everyone I know on LinkedIn, doing the whole Business After Hours networking with the Chamber of Commerce, and….cold calling, the thing I hate the most in the universe.
Tine #2: I can look for a grown-up job in my field. That has some advantages: benefits (especially health insurance, which is going to run out in August), consistent income, socialization. It could lead to me being able to buy a house. And it would give me some more writing experience, albeit of a different sort, since that’s what I would try to get – a job in the marketing/writing field. But wouldn’t I be giving up on my dream? Or would I just be postponing it?
Tine #3: I can find a second part-time job. Between two part-time jobs, I could have a semi-decent income. I could do something different, like be a barista, work in a bookstore, a gallery, or any one of the many things I’ve always wanted to try. Life would be juggling schedules, and wouldn’t give me much time to travel. But there would be variety. I like variety in my work.
Tine #4: I can start working on articles for publication and just (appropriately) flood the market to get some things published. I can start looking for an agent for my novel. This tine takes me most directly towards my future.
Tine #5: I can go back to school – more specifically, nursing school. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. That would require taking out a student loan, and…studying. At least Kelsea and I could keep each other company while doing homework.
Tine #6: I could join the Peace Corps. Seriously! They do take people my age. And it’s the closest I can get to running off and joining the French Foreign Legion, like heartbroken romantics used to do in the last century. OK, they were men, but you get the picture. It would be a good thing for me, doing something socially conscious.
Tine #7 (yes, it’s a big fork): I can keep things as is, status quo. I can keep going like I am right now, with one part-time job, for another year. I can travel. I’d have to make some more decisions when my lease is up, about not having a place and just travelling all the time, finding a new place, or staying in this place.
I have a lot of options. As I said in my New Year’s post, I’m visualizing my future as it already exists. These choices are avenues to the same place; it’s just a matter of which will make me happiest and most comfortable. It may not be a matter of choosing one option, either. It may be a combination of all of them. And any of them will take some time to develop – it’s not as if I expect to walk out the door tomorrow and have to dodge job offers like I have to dodge birds attacking the Cottage.
This is the sort of thinking and writing I was hoping to do while I was at the Hot Springs last week, and it’s the only writing and thinking that I didn’t get around to, which means that I wasn’t meant to do it there and then. But I do need to get in motion. It will be fun, whatever it is.
But I do rather wish it was a spoon in the road. I have rather a penchant for spoons.
OK, so Christmas Eve was alone and New Year’s Eve is alone. But big woo. It’s fine.
My time at the Hot Springs was good. I did a lot of work, a lot of writing, a lot of thinking, a lot of soaking and a bit of crying. On some of the travel boards on which I participate, people write trip reports when they go places – sort of like a journal of what they did, where they ate, what was interesting. Cottonwood is not exactly geared for that kind of report. What I wound up writing was a daily lyric poem of my experience – more feelings, thoughts, sensations, revelations. Not your typical trip report. I’m not sure yet if I want to publish it here – still debating in my head.
Lots and lots of writers have been talking about new year’s resolutions or their lack thereof. No reason for me not to do the same.
I don’t have any, really. I’m taking a different approach this year, a more psychocybernetic, secret, law of attraction approach. (Go ahead you naysayers, make poofy faces and roll your eyes, shake your heads in disdain and sign at my delusions, it’s okay.) My landlady introduced to a strange, encouraging messaging thingy last year called Notes From the Universe. Every other day or so, I get an email. I really liked today’s. I’ll quote the most important part of it here. Keep in mind that this is not to offend, belittle or minimize anyone’s religious beliefs.
“1. Give thanks that life is… just as it is (and that it’s been… just as it’s been). Because of it, you’re now “READY.”
2. Define what you want in terms of the end result. Don’t worry about the hows, or even the course. KNOW that what you want is ALREADY yours in spirit, by divine LAW, just focus on the certainty of this ownership, understand it, claim it, and “it will be on earth, as it is in heaven (spirit).”
3. LET THE UNIVERSE show you the way via your impulses and instincts that appear as you take inspired action. Don’t worry that your first steps seem silly or futile. And if you don’t know what to do, do anything! Go! Get busy! Do not insist on intermediary successes, only upon the end result.”
I like these suggestions. I am going to try to follow them. I have spent some time today – and will spend some more time tonight – crafting a few powerful statements that resonate with me, that enable me to feel my future as my present, that basically act on #2 above.
Yes, it’s a new approach, but hey, why not? Last year certainly wasn’t a banner year, and frankly, I don’t want to dwell on it anymore. I don’t want to live in the pain of loss, loss of so many things. That’s no way to live, and no way to act. And according to some universal law theorists, it’s best not to say too much about your evolved reality to too many people. So, my apologies, but most elements of my new reality will remain a mystery until I am living the end results.
Then we’ll all have even more reason to celebrate – but for now, for tonight and all nights, I wish you all joy.