Yes, folks, that’s right. I’m on fire this week, as far as my ROW80 goals are concerned. Overall, I’ve been doing a decent job with structuring my day so that I have enough routine to get things done. My day is now built around early morning exercise and the ROW80 writing sprints (11 am PST!), with something research and/or dissertation-related in the afternoon.

I’ve been keeping my apartment clean, cooking myself meals most evenings, and feeling like a sane, healthy individual. I’m not 100% sure how long this is going to last, but in the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy myself.

Here’s how the week played out:

Writing: I managed to take part in the daily ROW80 writing sprints Monday-Thursday (Friday I was foiled by my dying laptop charger, sadly), and wrote between 1000 and 1500 words each day towards TELL ME NO LIES. I had a minor breakthrough on Wednesday, when it occurred to me to start focusing on individual elements of the novel, rather than try to edit and write linearly. At the moment, I have laid out the major plot points, and I’ve started to fit the milestones for individual character arcs and romance subplots on top of those.

Pulling apart each strand of the novel is proving to be incredibly helpful, as it allows me to do a better job of pinpointing how characters evolve and change, as well as understanding how their problems relate with the larger social context (yeah, that’s the sociologist in me talking). There are all sorts of “factions” in my steampunk Barbary Coast circa 1895: politicians, crime lords, industrialists, moralists, law enforcement… My brash, loud-mouthed saloon singer is caught up in the midst of them, and while it’s her story I’m telling, I can’t ignore the other tensions at work.

In the week to come, I hope to work my way through both romance subplots (as much as I tried to resist, there’s a love triangle in this story), as well as give some thought to the actual murder mystery itself. How do my hero and heroine go about hunting for a killer? I’m actually not all that sure, so figuring it out is top priority.

Day Job: I started brainstorming dissertation ideas on Tuesday, but haven’t had a chance to do more than read through half an article, and thumb my way through a book (actually, it’s the book that I wish I had written, and am kind of bitter that I didn’t) for research purposes. However, I did get a lot accomplished for my research assistantship, which my advisor is quite pleased about. I’ve tracked down a few locations for pertinent archives, and taken notes on a couple of journal articles and books. The gauntlet of grading begins next Thursday, so I will try to get more dissertation stuff beforehand.

Social Time: I’m still going strong here. I went to a concert Sunday night and met up with some grad school friends for drinks Friday night. Even better, I had a chance to visit with my friend, fellow writer, and former high school biology teacher, Eva Gordon, on Friday afternoon.

Eva is writes paranormal romance and science fiction (I’m lucky enough to be one of her beta readers), and we had a great talk about books and writing, as well as all those things she taught in her biology class that still stick with me today: werewolves, forensic investigation, viruses and plagues, and countless other things. It was definitely one of the highlights of my week.

Exercise: I am shockingly on target here. I worked out 5 days this week, and mixed up my routine with a 4 mile walk (Monday), my 50-minute at-home Pilates routine (Tuesday), and thirty minutes on the glider for the remaining three days.

I’ve also been tackling nutrition as well. I took some of the advice that you all gave me last round when I asked for healthy snack ideas. Instead of buying chips, pretzels, or cookies on my last grocery shopping trip, I picked up baby carrots, apples, almonds, and crystallized ginger. Better yet, I’m upping my water intake, having at least one super-tasty salad a day (spinach, strawberries, avocado, and goat cheese is my current fav), and trying to limit portion sizes.

50/50 Challenge: I devoted most of my efforts to research and writing this week, so my reading rates have declined quite a bit. However, I read THE STORY OF THE SISTERS OF MERCY IN MISSISSIPPI, a 1933 history of the order of Catholic nuns and their experiences as pioneers in 19th century Mississippi, along with AGAIN by fellow WANA-ite, Diana Murdock. I definitely recommend AGAIN for anyone who enjoys romance, time travel, and reincarnation, as it was beautifully written and incredibly enjoyable.

No new movies to report on, though I did start watching the 2006 BBC miniseries, The State Within, about terrorism and conspiracies, starring Jason Isaacs in a rare non-villainous role. Better yet, I am off to see the latest Underworld film tomorrow. Nothing like vampires and lycans and action to complete my weekend. 😀 

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