Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: The First Check-in of 2012

It’s my first check-in post of 2012! I’m at the end of my month-long winter vacation, and preparing to head back to school on Tuesday.  I’m reluctant to leave my parents’ house — I’ve had a wonderful break, and I hate saying goodbye to them — but I am trying to remember that I have slightly over six months remaining in Santa Barbara, and then I will be back here for at least another year, if not two.

The last week has been a bit of a muddle in terms of tackling goals; I imagine that once classes start up, it will be easier to maintain a normal schedule.  Here’s what I’ve managed to get done in the meantime:

Writing: Nothing new here, though I finally received my copy of THE BARBARY COAST, Herbert Asbury‘s 1933 “informal history of the San Francisco underworld” (Asbury is also the author of THE GANGS OF NEW YORK, which Martin Scorsese adapted into film). I’m excited to read through the book, as it’s much-needed research for my steampunk tale, TELL ME NO LIES.

Day Job: I had promised my advisor that I would have a complete draft of my thesis to her around December 15th, but between family, the holidays, friends, and getting sick last week, I fell behind in my work. I am happy to report, however, that I am roughly 2-3 paragraphs away from completing the dratted project. There are still holes that will need to be filled in before I defend the final version, but for the moment it is mostly done. It is just over 25k, which is about 75 pages long, and while I can’t help but glare at it (this is what happens when one has been dragging along the same project like a ball and chain for over 3 years), deep down I have an inkling that it is not altogether terrible work… and might actually be rather good.

Social Time: Ironically, this is the one area where I have excelled this week. On Monday my friends and I went out for a sing-along showing of West Side Story, followed by cocktails and sushi.  I’ve seen one of my other friends twice this week for study parties/marathons of Big Bang Theory, my new favorite television show. And my mom and I have gone out a few times for shopping and eating out.

Social Media: I fell behind here — no new blog posts besides Monday’s ROW80/Inspirations post, and not much by way of blog-hopping, except for the ROWers I was able to visit on Monday and Tuesday. This is another area I’m hoping will improve once I get back to school and fall into a routine.

Exercise: Another place for lots and lots of improvement. I haven’t gotten any exercise this week (my mom is currently yelling at me to get a move-on, so I really need to take her advice), but tomorrow I will hopefully pull it together and get started.

50/50 Challenge: This is actually a goal that I forgot to include during my first ROW80 post. I’m taking on the 50/50 Challenge, where participants pledge to read 50 books and watch 50 films during 2012. I haven’t watched any new movies yet (except for maybe half of Contagion, which was okay, but not nearly as good as  Outbreak), but my reading has shot through the roof in the last week, thanks to my brand-new Kindle. My progress can be found on my shiny new 50/50 Challenge Page.

I’ve read a total of 8 books since 2012 started, including Diane Capri’s wonderful CARLY’S CONSPIRACY (a must-read for anyone who enjoys murder mysteries and lady sleuths), Shelly Adina’s steampunk novel LADY OF DEVICES (I’m currently reading the sequel, HER OWN DEVICES and loving it), and Suzanne Collins‘s HUNGER GAMES trilogy. I am narrowly resisting the urge to write in caps about how obsessed I am with THE HUNGER GAMES, and Katniss, and Peeta (swoon), but suffice it to say that I have not been this taken with a series since I read Karen Marie Moning’s FEVER books last fall.

Next up on the TBR list is the 2nd-4th books in Diana Gabaldon’s LORD JOHN series (the spin-off from the OUTLANDER books), followed by a few novels by my WANA friends: AGAIN by Diana Murdock, DRAWING FREE by Elena Aitken, and ELEMENTAL MAGIC by Angela Wallace.


There’s definitely room for improvement, but in my defense, I am slowly easing my way into this round of ROW80 (thank goodness we have 80 days!). How’s everyone else doing so far?

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  1. Impressive list, Lena! Congratulations on being nearly done with the Thesis! I can’t imagine the work you’ve put into it…and it probably is good. 🙂

    Good luck with your schedule. Vacations are always a tough time to stick to anything resembling a schedule (which is why they’re called vacations, I guess). Time enough to worry about it when you get back to school.

    • Thanks so much, Kristy! I will be so happy to see the end of this project (although I suppose it’s not really the end, since I’ll have to coax an article or two out of it). And yes, you’re right — vacation does mean some sort of freedom from a schedule. I’ve been trying to enjoy the free time while I’ve got it.

      Have a great week!

  2. Hello to my new Exercise Accountability Partner!!! We’re gonna make an EAP system between us and get all that holiday weight off our hineys. 🙂 WOOT!
    Jenny Hansen recently posted..10 Unusual Things I Know About WritersMy Profile

  3. I am so impressed with your reading prowess. With my busy Mom/Entrepreneur/Writer/Artist/Activist somehow reading for pleasure escapes me each and every time. Tonight I went to a movie and thought, “I should have been reading!” Ahhhh, well.

    I think it is awesome you are EASING into ROW80. Remember this is the writing challenge that knows you have a life!
    Julie Jordan Scott recently posted..#ROW80 Sunday Check In #1 ~ Including an oldie but goodie "Odd to the Morning Page PoliceMy Profile

    • I am actually shocked that I have done so much reading. I had a goal of 50 books for 2011 and I fell short by about 3. There’s something about having the Kindle by my side that makes it easier to drop into a book whenever I have a stray moment (I have taken to, er, sleeping next to it, which is probably a blog post in and of itself, lol). Still, I imagine that once vacation is through, I’ll have less time to indulge — gotta stock up on reading time while I can!

  4. Dude how can you read that fast! I am AMAZED! That’s like one book a day. I’m much too slow of a reader to fit in 50 books a year. 50 movies I could do.

    • Seriously, I think grad school has turned me into some creepy android or something. I keep trying to slow myself down and drink in every last word, but I still find myself inhaling books at insane speeds. 😛

      I actually think the 50 movies part is going to be the hardest for me. I have such a difficult time sitting still long enough to focus on a movie without multitasking. It is going to be a challenge in doing one thing at a time, lol.

      Have a great week, Nicole!

  5. Great check-in! I’m also doing the 50/50 Challenge, I thought I was doing well with 4 books down already this month but 8! wow! And the Hunger Games – how awesome, can’t wait for the movie (out in March here) 😀
    Sharon Howard recently posted..ROW80 2012 – Versatile Blogger AwardMy Profile

    • Thanks, Sharon! I’m trying to build a bit of a buffer zone for when school inevitably gets busy in the next few weeks, and I have less time to read. I’d say that 4 books in barely a week is pretty good myself.

      I am SO excited to watch The Hunger Games. It comes out here in March as well, and I am probably going to go on opening night, because I can’t contain myself. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I never heard of the 50/50 challenge toll today, but I’m going to see if I can tag along ono that. I read all the time and LOVE movies. I should make a pretty good dent in both in a year. Excellent! 🙂 Mmm. What blog to put updates on though. The review/book blog (wordsinsync) or my author blog? Wish they were one !!

    Well done to you. You seem on track. You reminded me of when I did my dissertation (back in 99 – *cough*). I thought mine was rubbish as I rushed it and fretted (like so many other’s do) and yet I got A+. We are our own worse critics.
    And you’ve still managed to read 8 books? Bonkas 🙂 I’m on my forth. Kindle is remarkable at increasing the consumption of books I’ve found over the past few years. I could’ do without mine now.

    Shah .X
    shah wharton recently posted..Editing Series Pt. 1 PLUS ROW80 UpdateMy Profile

    • Yes, you should definitely jump aboard the 50/50 challenge! The more the merrier!

      I’ve been trying quite hard to remember the advice that one of my undergrad advisors gave me when I was working on my senior thesis: “The best thesis is a finished thesis.” I want this to be perfect so badly, and yet it’s not going to be perfect. I’ll settle for “passing,” that way I can at least move on.

      Thank you so much for swinging by and commenting, Shah!

  7. Lena – I am impressed by the number of people, including yourself, who are using ROW80 to solidify goals outside of writing, such as reading, fitness, and social networking! Very inspirational!

    Keep up the good work and see you and next week’s check-in…


    Happily Ever After: http://amzn.to/uIjoa1
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    Edward H. Carpenter recently posted..A Round of Words Check-In, 1-8My Profile

    • Thanks, Edward — I’ve learned from some wonderful people that ROW80 is a great way to get focused with things besides writing. It’s such a wonderful system to have in place.

      Have a great week!

  8. Great job on the reading! For some reason I think that clearing the thesis off your plate will make everything else improve. Like opening the curtains and windows so light and fresh air can come in. If you truly feel its good then why wait? (Tough love, sorry).

    I saw over on Jen Hansen’s site that you are looking at teaming up as accountability partners on the exercise. This is an excellent choice. The two keys (found by failing here myself) are accountability and (because I love to quote Nike)…”just do it.”

    Have a great week, Lena 🙂
    Gene Lempp recently posted..ROWdate 1-8My Profile

    • Gene, that’s exactly how it feels to get the thesis done — like there will be so much more mental space and energy left over to get other things done once I’m through. I always need a dose of tough love, and in this case, you’re right — I’m going to try and be much more focused on just getting things done, rather than getting tripped up with worries, fears, and anxieties.

      Hope you’re having a wonderful week as well!

  9. Even though you didn’t get as much done as you wanted, you did a lot! I found that I also did not get as much done during my vacation as I thought – it’s hard to be structured when the main thing my structure revolves around (my job) is taken out of the equation. Good luck getting back into a routine with school starting back up!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..ROW80: Something that HelpedMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Jennette! I’ve had some success in the past getting work done over vacation, but the holidays really did throw a monkey wrench into my plan. It’s just impossible to buckle down when everyone else wants to go out and have fun.

      I’m hoping that getting back to classes makes it easier to get a routine going. We’ll see!

  10. aw holidays are for not doing much – and for catching up with friends – well done on thesis – I’m glad you think it’s good, would be terrible if after 3 years you didnt like it:) I found it difficult to get back into a routine but I think by next week we’ll all be there

    all the best for coming week
    alberta ross recently posted..Pleased with the 1st week: ROW80My Profile

    • Thanks so much, Alberta! You’re right — I think the first couple of weeks of each round, especially after the holidays, is the time when everyone is trying to find their footing. Hopefully we all get back in the swing of things in the next couple of weeks!

  11. Wonderful list, and congrats on begin so close to completing your thesis. That is a major accomplishment. It will definitely help you to get back to school – there’s a lot to be said for routine, much as I hate to admit it.

    Keep up the great work!
    Stacy Green recently posted..Row80 Check In 1-8-12: Recharged!My Profile

    • Stacy, thank you so much! It’s so funny — I wish I could be one of those people who sort of flies by the seat of their pants (this goes for writing and the way I live my life), but I’ve come to the conclusion that I like stability and routine and plans (also outlines, apparently!). It makes it so much easier when it comes to getting things done!

  12. In total awe that you’ve been able to devour 8 books in one short week. Wowza.

    I’m sure once you get back into school and a ‘normal’ schedule, things will click into place for you, sweet girl!
    Myndi Shafer recently posted..ROW80: Check in, Week 01My Profile

    • Oh gosh, you are not the only one who is shocked. I sort of just fell back into my old patterns of eating books alive — after a couple of years of half-heartedly trying to read non-school books, it has felt SO darn good. 😀

  13. I, too, am totally flabbergasted at how you read 8 books in one week! And, your thesis…well i would make a priority to just get it done and over with. then you can move on to lighter weight goals. Any progress is good and you have quite a bit o progress listed there, Lena! Better week coming up!
    Marcia Richards recently posted..ROWing to Success!My Profile

    • Thanks so much, Marcia! One of the things I’m trying to learn how to do is, in the words of Gene (and Nike), to just ‘do it.’ It’s hard and it’s difficult, but I think I might be getting a little better. 😀

  14. Fantastic week, Lena. The amount of books you read this week is awesome and the fact that you got out and did some social stuff is really great. Here’s looking forward to another great week of ROW80 goal achievement!
    Sheila Seabrook recently posted..ROW80: Week 1 CheckinMy Profile

  15. 8 books? 8 books? I was so proud of my 3!!!!! Ha ha!

    Great about the social goal and I definitely think when you are back in your usual routine your writing routine will follow.

    Good work and yay for the nearly finished thesis!!!! 🙂
    Em recently posted..ROW80 Check-in 8th JanuaryMy Profile

    • Aaaack, seriously, don’t ask. I don’t even know where all the bookish-ness came from, but I do think I am trying to build up a bit of a buffer for when my schedule gets swamped later on in the year. 😀

  16. I think it’s funny that most of us set goals for January 1st, when it always takes me a few weeks to settle into a new schedule after the holidays. I’m always better able to meet my goals when I have a schedule I can stick to. Have fun back at school!

    • It’s so true! My school semester usually starts right after the new year, but this year we had an extra week of vacation, so I’ve been feeling more thrown off than usual. I’m hoping that by the end of the month, I’ll be back to normal.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  17. Wow! I am impressed with the number of books you have put under your belt so far this year. Way to go Lena! You are my hero.

    -What Myndi said. You will get your groove back. It’s hard to keep the same momentum when you are on vacation. I know I had big plans for the writing on vacation and they just fell apart as the seams.

    I am cheering you on! Go Lena! Go!
    Debra Kristi recently posted..Dancin’ to the Row80 Train with Walken #1My Profile

    • Ah, thank you so much for all the cheering on, Debra! I’m trying to forgive myself for, y’know, living and stuff and not getting work done over break. I was so busy with family and friends, but I think I deserved the pseudo-break. 😀

      It’s been so much fun sprinting with you these last few days!

  18. I am thrilled to hear about the progress you are making on your thesis. That’s amazing and such a huge accomplishments.
    You are a reading maniac – I love it!!! I want to incorporate reading more this year.
    Here’s to a great week 2!!!
    Natalie Hartford recently posted..ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #2My Profile

    • Oh man, I am delighted with all the reading I’ve been doing. It’s sort of like being 10 years old all over again, when I sort of just ate, slept, and breathed books. Definitely a welcome change from all the dense social theory and feminist theory I’ve been drowning in for the past few years. 😀

  19. Kudos to you, Lena, for slowing down during your vacation to enjoy the time with your parents, friends and reading! No harm in that at all. Rejuvenation of self will get you ready to plow back into finalizing the thesis and diving back into your WIPs. As for the exercise, I sat on my duff a bit during the holiday weeks, but made up for it being social. Now I’m cranking up the cardio. 🙂 Oh, and for the movies, I trained myself to stop multitasking by watching them in the dark.
    Barbara McDowell recently posted..ROW80 Sunday Check-In: 1/8/12My Profile

    • Thanks so much, Barbara! I think one of the hardest things about working from home and needing to be self-motivated is the sense that I should be working 24/7, when of course that’s all utter nonsense.

      Okay, I think watching films in the dark is going to be my new ‘thing.’ Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing. D

  20. I’m so sorry to hear that you were sick Lena. I’m glad your better because you’ve got quite the schedule to keep, don’t ya?

    You’ve got wonderful goals and wow, I can’t believe how much reading you’ve accomplished! That’s amazing.

    I’m reading Diane Capri’s book now. I finally got a Kindle. YES! I heard you got one too! Isn’t it great?

    You’re an inspiration Lena as always! Take care girl. I’ve missed you. Sorry I’ve not been around much lately. Well I’ll just have to change that, won’t I!

    Take care!:)
    Karen McFarland recently posted..ROW80: Kicking and Screaming!My Profile

    • Karen, it’s so good to see you, and no worries — I’ve been a little in and out on the social media front myself. I keep hoping that I’ll be able to pull it together in the next couple of weeks, because I really miss getting around to everyone’s posts.

      Can’t wait to hear more about what you’ve been reading! I seriously think my Kindle is the best present I could’ve given myself. 😀


    Just had to type that all in caps.

    Hello, hello! I seem to keep better track of you on twitter than by blog. But I figured I’d stop on by and see you’re doing OKish (could be better) on the writing part. But you have a good excuse so thats alright.

    The good thing is that you’re done with that huge thesis so you can concentrate on other things. Anytime you need encouragement you know where to find me on the twitter!

    • You have been SO awesome with the encouragement, so thank you! And yeah, I am officially a hardcore Hunger Games fan. I am dying for the film to come out, although you know I will be screaming bloody murder if they mess things up. 😀

  22. Wow 8 books read already?! I loved the Hunger Games trilogy too. Good for you on all your goals! Keep it up!

  23. Wow, 8 books already? Damn, you’re fast! lol I need to catch up on that.
    You’ve got a lot on your hands and seems to be doing a great work managing it all. Nice 😉
    Have a great week!
    Juliana Haygert recently posted..First ROW80 update of the year!My Profile

  24. Sorry to hear that your vacation is at an end, but with only six months to go – you’ve got to be feeling pretty good! Two to three paragraphs before finishing your thesis? That’s great! It seems you are nearing quite a few endings/conclusions/accomplishments through this year! Big changes coming up. Congrats, Lena.
    Nadja Notariani recently posted..A Round Of Words Check-In and Wisdom…My Profile

  25. Holy cow, Lena! You are putting me to shame with you list. Good luck keeping up with everything =D
    Juliana recently posted..Beware the Weak HeroineMy Profile

  26. It sounds like you’ve been extremely busy, Lena! Social life has to take the front seat every once in a while. It fills your tank or later when you have to tackle those projects you don’t necessarily want to tackle. Especially that writing of a thesis part. That sounds yucky to me. I’m glad it’s on your to do list and not mine. I’ll go to the sing along and eat sushi.

    Happy 2012 and best of luck to you in attaining all of your goals. They all sound like good ones!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  27. I know what you mean about needing ‘normal’ life for a routiene – I’m much the same. Hope once you’re back at school you’ll start whipping through the goals!
    NewToWritingGirl recently posted..Getting Back On ItMy Profile

  28. Congratulations on being close to finishing your thesis. Major big deal. I can read the 50 books no problem. I’m a speed reader as well and have a hard time slowing down. 🙂 I can’t imagine watching 50 movies. Have fun with that.
    Robin McCormack recently posted..Sunday Salon: Pinch points and throughlines and subplots, Oh My!My Profile

  29. OMG, you’ve read 8 books since the start of 2012?? That’s impressive. Good luck with your goals, especially your writing, exercise, and thesis. You can do it!

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