Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Category: ROW80 Check-in (page 2 of 11)

ROW80: The Power Of The Force

Happy Sunday, friends! As you can see, I’m all about the power of the Force this weekend. My friends and I are going to see the Star Wars exhibit at the San Jose Tech Museum in a couple of weeks, so I’m fixing a few holes in my nerd cred and finally watching the original 3 films. Not sure why it took so long for me to get around to doing this, but I’m glad it’s finally happening!

This week I had the chance to hit up the California Academy of Sciences‘ weekly 21+up event, “Nightlife,” for the first time in a couple of months. Nightlife is the only event in the San Francisco Bay Area with music, creatures, cocktails, and science–definitely my idea of the perfect night out. As always, the creatures were out in full force, with butterflies flitting about the rainforest…


…tropical fish floating about in their tank…


…a brightly colored lizard, who left his perch to peer a bit more closely at me…


…a sleepy frog…


…and some very industrious leafcutter ants.

IMG 6234 from Lena Corazon on Vimeo.


I’m feeling a bit like those ants right now: running to and fro, sometimes in the wrong direction, with a giant leaf that’s several times larger than my body weight on my shoulder. I’d like to think that I’m getting things done (honestly, just checking in feels like a huge accomplishment, so I am going to congratulate myself and tell myself that it is), but some days the things I finish hardly seem proportional to the things left languishing on my to-do list.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? I just purchased a handy weekly planner in the hopes that having something tangible will make it easier to schedule the few free hours that I have each day. It’ll arrive eventually; in the meantime, I’m trying to check in with myself every couple of days, if not daily.

Progress, hey-o!


  • Dissertation Chapter: I’m iiiinching my way along with this chapter. I printed the current draft (9 pages long, lots of gibberish), and I’ve got some notes on how to refine the outline. I also bought a copy of sociologist Patricia Wittberg’s book FROM PIETY TO PROFESSIONALISM–AND BACK?: TRANSFORMATIONS OF ORGANIZED RELIGIOUS VIRTUOSITY. While it’s a study of current Catholic women religious (unlike my historical study), she utilizes the sociology of organizations and institutional logics, the perspective I’m attempting to apply to my project. I read sixty pages this week; the goal for next week is to read another three chapters. 
  • Dissertation Data: I haven’t gotten around to looking at all the data I’ve collected, but I’ll be in the archive next weekend doing a bit more collecting. To prepare, this week  I’ll be reading up on the overall history of the religious order, the Sisters of the Holy Family. Cool story: they were the only religious order to be founded in the US, west of the Mississippi River.

Creative Writing:

  • Writing: Nothing new in terms of fiction or poetry. I’m halfway through Chapter 14 of TELL ME NO LIES, and I’ve been trying to fix the outline. I’m merging multiple drafts into one, and I still can’t decide what I want to keep and what needs to be discarded. This week, I’d like to have a chapter outline complete.
  • Reading: I finished ALL THE PATHS OF SHADOW by Frank Tuttle, and ohhhhh. Can we talk about a book that just left me devastated when I was done? Not because of some horribly sad ending, but because it was lovely, and wonderful, and it made me feel. The novel is fantasy with steampunk touches, and gave me lots to think about in terms of the fantasy/steampunk hybrid novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo 2012. This week I’ll read CHASING THE STAR GARDEN by Melanie Karsak.

So that’s me this week! Be sure to wave a friendly hello to all the other ROWers participating this week.

As a fun aside, and in keeping with the Star Wars theme, I leave you with the greatest comedy sketch of all time: Eddie Izzard’s “Death Star Canteen” sketch from his stand-up show, Circle (2000). Some brilliant person with way too much time on their hands rendered the entire thing in Lego, and it is glorious. Warnings for strong language (multiple f-bombs, etc.). Oh, and don’t eat or drink anything while watching. 😛

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ROW80: Back In The Saddle

It’s been a long, long, long time since I’ve written a blog post–about 3.5 months, to be exact. The last year has been a wild, wacky, weird, intense one, without much room or space for writing, blogging, or doing anything beyond the day-to-day. But now that I’ve stopped having nightmares about the day job, and given that I’m finally in the process of creating some routine in my life, I feel like it’s finally time to get back in the saddle.

So here I am! I’ve missed the ROW80 community while I’ve been away, and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to.

Yesterday I headed to San Francisco’s Old Mint, where all the gold was stored in the days before Fort Knox. The occasion: the Fourth Annual SF History Expo. Talk about a history lover’s paradise! There were dozens of organizations represented, like the California Historical Society (based in SF, with archives that are free and open to the public), the GLBT Historical Society, and tons of neighborhood-based historical orgs, which were some of my favorites.

San Francisco Old Mint

San Francisco Old Mint (Photo credit: www78)

I signed up for way too many email lists, found a ton of events that I’m dying to attend in the next few months (the best: a sea chantey sing-along event held aboard a historical ship), and gained a ton of momentum to continue work on my dissertation and my steampunk novel. After all, they’re both based on San Francisco history. Maybe one day I’ll have a booth of my own at one of these events. 😀

With that, here are my goals for the rest of Round 1:


  • Complete one chapter of my dissertation by the end of Round 1.
  • Create a working inventory of data sources.
  • Hammer out a coding scheme for data sources.


Creative Writing:

  • Write five new chapters of TELL ME NO LIES.
  • Write five poems.
  • Read four novels.

And that’s it. Short, sweet, and hopefully attainable. I’m aiming to check in for ROW80 once a week, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll start writing non-ROW80 posts as well.

So yay! With that, I’m off to check in with the rest of this week’s ROW80 participants.

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ROW80: All About Baby Steps

Happy Sunday, folks! It’s evening here in San Francisco, and I am feeling very thankful that I have tomorrow off. I’ve been a little out of sorts the last few weeks, in that odd, uncomfortable, disjointed period that accompanies all transitions. Creating the space to have daily “me” time has been difficult, but I’m taking baby steps to get there! I’ve promised myself that I’m not going to leave the house at all tomorrow, which should give me a chance to work and rest.

I declared my intentions to participate in NaNoWriMo on Wednesday, but I’m not attacking my WIP with nearly the same sort of vigor as I have in years past. The act of writing after being silent for so many weeks is a decidedly strange feeling. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching words form and drop onto the page, and it’s a little crazy to see tiny ideas growing, connecting, deepening, expanding. It almost makes me feel like I am a beginner all over again, but a beginner in the best of ways: able to appreciate the magical alchemy of the creative process, to feel inspired (and, to a certain extent, humbled) by the story being woven out of thin air.

My writing ambitions received a bit of a boost this week with a shipment in the mail from The Goulet Pen Company, an awesome company that sells fountain pens, inks, paper, and tons of other supplies.

My first shipment from Goulet Pens.

My first shipment from Goulet Pens.

I received an Ahab Flex Nib pen by Noodler’s Ink, along with five ink samples as part of their monthly “Inkdrop” subscription. I’ve just filled the pen with my favorite peacock blue ink, and whee! I am going to have fun working through the next set of scenes for THE GILDED CAGE.

Practicing my autograph with my new Ahab flex pen by Noodler's, filled with Pilot Iroshizuku's "Ku-Jaku" ink.

Practicing my autograph with my new Ahab flex pen by Noodler’s, filled with Pilot Iroshizuku’s “Ku-Jaku” ink.


With that, here’s how I’ve progressed over the last few days:

I only worked one day this week (Tuesday), but I made a teeny bit of progress on the very-overdue-proposal. More to come tonight, and lots more tomorrow.

Writing happened on two days this week, for the grand total of 2 hours, which technically satisfies my goal. I’d like to transition to writing as close to every day as possible, though, but baby steps, etc. Because I’ve done some writing by hand, I’m not quite sure what my total word count is, but it’s probably somewhere around 2,500. Again: baby steps.

My mom and I went for a walk + a bit of jogging twice this week, so yay! This week I’d like to add in a 3rd day of working out on my glider, but we’ll see…


With that, I hope everyone has a wonderful week! So far mine is shaping up to be a quiet one, with Monday’s holiday, though I will be putting in a few extra hours at work to tackle a big project. But as we move closer to Thanksgiving, I have to say that I am so very, very grateful for this community. Be sure to swing by and give a word of encouragement or two to the other ROWers who are checking in this week!


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ROW80: Hey, Ho, NaNoWriMo!

It’s been a wild and wacky few months in my life, with the shifts and changes that come along with transition periods. I’m still struggling to find a sense of balance, or at least a routine that can anchor me and give me a sense of stability. Even after two-and-a-half months at the day job, I find that I have little energy for exercise, blogging, research, or creative writing. Establishing the foundation of a routine is my goal for this final round of ROW80 for 2013.

Before I get to my ROW80 plan, a confession: One of the reasons why I’ve been so drained of time and energy is because I’ve been cramming random adventures and excursions into my day. In the last week, I saw both Stroke 9 (one of my favorite late-90s rock bands) and Sarah Brightman in concert, and  kinda-sorta met Veronica Roth, author of the DIVERGENT series, when she was in San Francisco on her book tour for ALLEGIANT. Oh, and I dressed up like a pirate, took a ride in 1953 Corvette, and started thinking about ideas for this year’s NaNoWriMo novel. Whee!

Photo highlights:



The author herself, striking a pose.

The author herself, striking a pose.


Sarah Brightman illuminated in a blaze of light, and her adoring fans.

Sarah Brightman illuminated in a blaze of light, and her adoring fans.


More on all these shenanigans to come, but in the meantime, here’s what I’d like to accomplish by the end of Round 3:

Round 3 Goals:


  • Work on the dissertation (that includes reading, note-taking, data analysis, and writing) at least 2 nights each week, and on Sundays.


  • 15-30 minutes of fun writing, 3-4 nights each week.


  • At least 20 minutes of physical activity, 2-3 times each week.

Compared to some of the goals I’ve had in the past, these look super simple… but given that I’ve failed on accomplishing any of these things in the last couple of months, I think it’ll be a challenge.

For fun, here’s the opening to my NaNoWriMo project, currently known as THE GILDED CAGE. It’s some sort of near-future dystopic… thing… and I’m going to be pantsing the hell out of it for the rest of the month.

It was a fiery sun that beat down on Greta’s back, or so it seemed. After a lifetime in the smog-dimmed skies of the cities, the unimpeded light of the north was more than she could handle. Here, in the only corner of the world not destroyed by machinery and war, the sun released its full wrath, all molten gold and demanding.

Where is it all going? I have NO idea, and that’s half the fun. 😀

Be sure to wave a hearty hello to the rest of the ROW80 bunch this week!

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ROW80: Have You Ever Heard an Alpaca Whine?

Happy Sunday, folks! I’ve successfully completed my first week of work as the front counter assistant at my local Boys and Girls Club, and now I’m ready for a little silliness. What could be better than a visit with some awesomely fuzzy animals at the petting zoo?

There were chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats, and (my favorites) a pig, tortoise, and alpaca. I may have been more excited than all of the kids who were gathered there. 😛

Oliver, the cutest pig ever. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)

Oliver, the cutest pig ever. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)

This baby goat was head-butting Oliver, the precious pig.

This baby goat was head-butting Oliver, the precious pig. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)


Baby, the alpaca who wouldn’t stop whining. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)

The alpaca pictured above had the strangest tendency to whine incessantly. It was such an uncanny noise that I had to take some video footage.

Isn’t it the cutest thing ever?

This week’s progress:

Day Job: I was a little stressed out about starting work this week, so I gave myself the week off from all dissertation-related activities. Starting tomorrow, though, I’ll be tackling the edits to my academic journal article, which are due on Friday.

Writing: I also decided to take a little time off here, as well. #teamsprinty is adding an evening writing sprint (7 pm Pacific/10 pm Eastern), so I’m going to be taking advantage of that in the week to come. My goal is to edit the next 2 chapters of TMNL, to get back on track.

Social Media: I used my mornings before work this week to work on blog posts (I know–even I’m shocked). I’ve got one queued up for tomorrow about the aerial scavenger hunt I took to an old WWII training camp, and an awesome video clip for Friday. I’ve also discovered the wonders of the WordPress app for iPhone, which makes commenting on blogs way easier.

So that’s about all for me right now! I’m looking forward to inching back into the world of blogging, digging into my research again, and making some progress with edits.

How’s the week going for everyone else? Don’t forget to say wave your pompoms for the rest of the ROW80 community!

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ROW80: The Changes Keep A-Comin’

I gotta say, folks: every time I think I’ve got my life under control, something new crops up and I’m left scrambling, trying to readjust and attain some semblance of balance.

Change, I think, has been the theme of the last few months. Practically all of it has been good–a new relationship, new friends, tons of awesome adventures (some of which will hopefully be immortalized in a glorious series of blog posts), and now, a new job. I’m grateful for all of these new opportunities; there’s so much room for growth and development. But whew… A girl’s gotta have time to breathe, y’know?

Needless to say, there hasn’t been much writing of any sort happening since I checked in a few weeks back, but I’m starting to think of this period as my summer hiatus. I’ve lived, I’ve explored, and I’ve gotten to do things that I’ve never done before.

California, 3000 feet in the air.

California, 3000 feet in the air.

Aerial scavenger hunt from a single-engine plane? Check. 1920s Downton Abbey-themed party at a historic California mansion? Check. Four-wheeling through windy dirt trails with 3 people crammed into a 2 person tractor? Check. Jazz concerts, experiments with moonshine, experiments with sangria, the worst wedding ever, countless trips to the Academy of Sciences…? Check, to all of the above.

Living, as so many of my astute writing friends have pointed out, is one of the keys to becoming a good author. Living–and reading, and watching movies, and taking time to absorb the world in which we live–is what allows us to create fictional worlds with all the vibrancy of the real thing, to construct living and breathing characters that our readers will come to love (or love to hate).

As August marches on and Autumn (slowly–soooo slowly, please, I’m not done with summer) approaches, I’ll hopefully get to a point where I find a rhythm and routine for my days. My new job runs from 12-6 pm, which means that my mornings can be for research and writing, and my evenings can be for happy hours and time with friends and family.

So cross your fingers for me, folks! I’d like to be able to have tons more progress and such to report in the weeks to come. After all, I’ve got deadlines to meet (revisions for my very first academic journal article on August 23rd, and my revised dissertation proposal by mid-September), which means I need to start hustling, and soon.

How’s the summer going for everyone else? Are you making progress, or have things slowed down? 

Swing on by and wave hello to the rest of our ROWers checking in for today!

ROW80: Rollin’ Along

Happy Sunday, folks! Time is really flying; I’m not quite sure how we’re in the second half of July, but here we are. My week has been busy with a mix of really fun stuff and some work. The fun stuff included a jazz concert on Sunday, and the world’s most epic 1920s theme party, both held at the Filoli estate about 20 miles south of San Francisco. Filoli is basically California’s answer to Pemberley, and whoa, I definitely felt like Elizabeth Bennet as I wandered around the property. I’ve got a whole post planned about Filoli, but here are a couple of photos, just as a preview.


The front of Filoli house. If it looks familiar, that’s because it served as the Carrington mansion in the television show, Dynasty.

One of the smaller buildings nestled in Filoli's extensive gardens.

One of the smaller buildings nestled in Filoli’s extensive gardens.

Gorgeous, huh?

If things look a little different around here, it’s not your imagination. I’m experimenting with different designs and themes at the moment, so if you’ve got any feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Anyway, onto this week’s progress!

Okay, I haven’t been very successful here at all. I’ve done a little brainstorming about how I want to expand my dissertation proposal, but very little (and by little I mean “none”) actual writing has been done.

To do this week: Buckle down and finish editing the proposal.

I’m way behind on my Camp NaNo goals, to the point where I’m actually starting to think that completing my goal of 15k on SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST is going to be an optional. The story is an exciting one, but TELL ME NO LIES has managed to snag my attention.

I’ve edited 2 chapters for TMNL, and outlined the next 10 chapters, taking me about half-way into Act 2. I’ve drafted most of these scenes, so all I’ve got to do is expand, clean up, and edit. I’m actually really darn excited to dig into these scenes, because the novel is finally taking shape. Whoo-hoo!

To do this week: Edit at least 2 more chapters; maybe write a little something for SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST.

This week I managed to add a “real” post, a silly commercial starring Hugh Jackman for Lipton Iced Tea. If you haven’t seen it, you can find it here. As I mentioned above, I’m also working on an overhaul of my blog, starting with a new theme. And as far as blog-hopping goes, I got a chance to visit 10 ROWers this week. Yay!

To do this week: Writing my post about Filoli House, and visiting some non-ROW blogs.

How’s everyone else doing? Any fun summer adventures afoot? Don’t forget to check in with everyone who is ROWing along this round!

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ROW80: Better Late Than Never

ROW80LogocopyHeyyyy! Okay, I’m a couple of weeks late for Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days, but I finally made it. Anyone have a cool drink to share? I need something to keep me cool during these unexpectedly warm summer days. 😛

It’s been a crazy few months, as most of you have been able to tell. But I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to wrangle at least few things in my life into some semblance of order. As far as the dissertation is concerned, I’ve completed almost all of my archival research, and my committee has approved my proposal. I wrote my very first academic journal article (whoo-hoo!) and while it still needs to undergo the review process, I got an early thumbs-up that eases a lot of my anxiety. And as far as my creative writing goes, I’ve finally been able to dig into TELL ME NO LIES, my steampunk romance/murder mystery/thriller that I’ve been trying to finish for two years now.

Things are definitely coming together.


With that, here’s my list of things to accomplish during Round 3:


  • Complete edits for Act I of TELL ME NO LIES, and create a detailed outline for Act II
  • Participate in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and write 15k towards SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST


  • Finish archival research
  • Complete dissertation proposal edits
  • Start analyzing all the data that’s already been collected
  • Draft dissertation chapters 1 and 2


  • Aim for 1 ROW80 check-in and 1 regular blog post each week
  • Visit and comment on at least 5 blogs each week
  • Brainstorm changes for my blog, to put into action during Round 4

My biggest goal for this round, I think, is to ease back into things without crippling myself with anxiety or fear or any of the other things that have been holding me back this year. I’m feeling a lot more positive and excited about the work I have before, so hopefully that’ll translate into getting lots done!

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ROW80: When Life Attacks

All right, it’s official: this round of ROW80 is definitely the one that isn’t. Kinda like Round 1. And my April CampNaNo attempt. And my PROJECT DISSERTATE OR DIE! attempt.

Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t been completely useless over the last few weeks. Instead, it’s been all about Life Stuff, random accidents, and other nonsense. Case in point:

1. I have been scratched up, tripped, bruised, and almost strangled by killer weeds.

No, seriously. This is a fraction of the years’ worth of weeds that my parents and I pulled up on our hillside over the last week and a half:

IMG_2113This is more or less what the hillside looked like before we started:

IMG_2128This is how things look after over 100 ice plants were planted:


However, the one good thing that the backyard has yielded are some lovely wild-growing calla lilies, which have made for pretty bouquets in the house:

IMG_2139 The moral of this story: Moving back home means that one gets implicated in all of the home improvement schemes that one’s parents decide to tackle on a whim. Brilliant.

2. I have had ALL the migraines and random accidents.

Really, I feel like… I dunno, the world?… is conspiring against me. My work momentum has been disrupted by days of allergies, days of migraines, days of random nausea, and (my favorite), the tumble down the stairs that I took last Tuesday, resulting in a bruised backside and the inability to sit/stand/walk/move properly. Seriously, it still hurts (wtf?).

Clearly, the only solution for this madness was the purchase of a new stuffed animal.


3. My weird anxiety and irrational fears are cropping back up again.

Losing momentum is difficult not only because it’s so darn hard to regain it, but because it creates a vacuum in which my anxieties and fears can breed. Getting my work done over the last few weeks has felt like an uphill battle, and while I have a sense that I have had some success (I am slowly adding words to the WIP; the framework of my dissertation is taking shape), it just doesn’t feel like enough.

It’s frustrating, and worrisome, and messes me up so darn badly, because things that should be really simple (sending emails, taking notes on an article, writing this check-in) end up feeling WAAAAAAAY more laborious than they should be. So the cycle deepens and gets worse; my lack of words and productivity continues to weigh me down; the weight of worry makes it even harder to get started; the morass grows.


So… yeah. My brain is a bit of a muddle at the moment, and getting back on track is proving to be more difficult than I anticipated. But, hey, it’s about taking things one day at a time, right?

I’ve been trying to write for 15-30 minutes each day on the WIP, because if I suspend the internal editor I can crank out roughly 500-700 words in a 15 minute session. And I am slowly dragging this dissertation proposal into shape; it’s just taking way longer than I anticipated as I am trying to learn this whole new area of study (organizational culture, whoo-hoo!) and ugh, there are way too many chapters and articles and such to wrap my brain around.

And don’t get me wrong–I have plenty of lovely things to be very happy and excited about. It’s just that when work + writing feel off-kilter, I feel like everything gets thrown off.

With that said, this week is all about trying, once again, to get back on track. I am going to finish the draft of this dissertation proposal, schedule a date to head to Santa Barbara to meet with my advisor, make all the research appointments I’ve been putting off for weeks, and maybe even take all the poetry fragments and bits of WIP ideas and pull them all together.

How’s everyone else doing? I’m slowly trying to get back into the rhythm of answering comments and blog-hopping, but know that I have been thinking about you all. <3 <3 <3

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ROW80: Oh, How Time Flies!

I know, I know, I’ve been all sorts of absent over the last month or so. Where have I been? for starters, there was the family spring break trip to Anaheim, where all of this awesomeness occurred:


The valiant knights of Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA.



Yo ho ho!

Yo ho ho!

The great Captain Jack Sparrow, for my #teamsprinty loves

The great Captain Jack Sparrow, for my #teamsprinty loves


Family time at Disneyland.

…and then after I got back from vacation, there was just a lot of “Oh, I’ll write a check-in post on Sunday. Wait, Sunday has passed? Then I’ll check in on Wednesday…” And so on, and so forth.

Then April rolled around (no, I don’t know where the time has gone. I am convinced that some evil genius somewhere flipped a switch and stole at least 3 weeks from me), and I had all this life stuff come up. Nothing serious, mind you, just the life stuff that involves dealing with routine doctors’ appointments, and running all those errands that have been piling up for months, and paying attention to things like the mountain of paper and mail and books that are overflowing from the various corners in which they were stashed.

I was reminded that I had planned to paint my room waaaaay back in July, when I first moved back home, so I took the last week to finally get that done. I think the results are well worth the effort. 😛

Napoleon is wondering, as always, what the heck I'm up to this time.

Napoleon is wondering, as always, what the heck I’m up to this time.

A before-and-after shot of my desk, for comparison's sake.

A before-and-after shot of my desk, for comparison’s sake.

With all this massive spring cleaning and redecorating finished, I’m hoping I’ll have all sorts of renewed energy for creativity and productivity. With that in mind, here are my Round 2 goals. For April, I plan to do the following:

DAY JOB: Finish the first full draft of my dissertation proposal.

WRITING: Write 30k towards TELL ME NO LIES for CampNaNoWriMo.

That’s it. Simple, straight-forward, and to the point… though still a little scarily ambitious. But after almost 2 years of participating in ROW80, I’ve come to accept the fact that I don’t quite know how to do anything less.

So, yay! I’m late to the party, but I’m thrilled, as always, to be here. How’s Round 2 treating everyone else?

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