Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Tag: vacation

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:

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

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Disneyland!

Yo ho ho!

Yo ho ho!

The great Captain Jack Sparrow, for my #teamsprinty loves

The great Captain Jack Sparrow, for my #teamsprinty loves

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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?

ROW80: Refreshed and Ready to Rock

As some of you know, I celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday by taking a road trip down to Los Angeles to visit my good friend and colleague, Nicki, along with my not-so-little sister, Jaymie, who will be turning twenty in May. I don’t think I realized how badly I needed a short get-away, but now that I’ve had a couple of days to do absolutely nothing but enjoy myself, I feel like I’m ready to get back to work.

I had a short work week and a long weekend, so the progress I’ve made towards my goals reflects that. Here’s how the last week turned out:

Writing: Last Monday was basically a day of writing: lots of brainstorming, lots of editing, and a couple of new scenes planned out for TELL ME NO LIES. I’m starting to wonder, though, if I am going to be able to have a complete draft by the end of this round, which was my ultimate goal. In the weeks to come, I’m going to need to figure out the game-plan for pulling things together, and trying to get it finished.

Day Job: Oh boy, people, things are moving as far as the day job is concerned. I’ve filled out all the paperwork and set the date for the oral defense for my MA thesis. The official date is Thursday, March 1st, and I will be freaking out prepping industriously for the next week and a half. I only need to make a 5-10 minute presentation on my findings and conclusions, and brave the Q&A segment, but I am trying to remind myself that I know this project inside and out, and that committees don’t schedule defenses for students who aren’t deemed ready.

In other news I’ve signed up for the last two courses I will ever take as a graduate student (thrilling, frightening, exciting). One of them will be a directed study with my advisor, which will hopefully help me to gear up for the dissertation proposal that I need to write and defend by the end of the summer. No pressure, right? 😉

Social Time: There were a lot of good times over the past week: a fantastically awesome Valentine’s celebration with two of my besties that involved a hilarious movie (This Means War), cocktails, and cheesecake; an overnight visit with Nicki, complete with gabbing and tasty cupcakes; and a couple of days worth of shopping and hanging out with this kid:

She is, of course, way older these days and approaching adulthood, but I’m really grateful that we got to spend some time together one-on-one. My sister and I are nothing alike, and because we’re 5 years apart in age, and 6 years apart in school, finding common ground is even harder (I think there’s a blog post in this). But the older she gets, the more we have to talk about. I’m looking forward to this becoming an ongoing trend.

Exercise: Exercise and nutrition are always a major challenge around my birthday, because I am very good at justifying excesses, like this cupcake. Just look at it, will you? It clearly was something that was just begging to be eaten.

I managed to work out 3 days last week, and tried to balance out all the tasty desserts and eating out I did with extra servings of veggies. My jeans still button and I don’t feel like I’m busting out of my clothes (yet?), so I suppose I haven’t failed too terribly.

50/50 Challenge: Okay, I basically took Thursday to do nothing but read, and I devoured DARK CURRENTS and DEADLY GAMES, books 2 and 3 in Lindsay Buroker‘s THE EMPEROR’S EDGE series. I pretty much love everything Lindsay has written, and these two weren’t any different. If you like steampunk and fantasy, check them out.

I also hit the movies twice this week and caught This Means War and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for a double dose of Tom Hardy. This Means War was a lot funnier than I thought it would be, and even though I was irked by the ending, I really enjoyed it. And wow, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was amazing… though I will say that it was definitely worth my $9.75 to watch Colin Firth ooze and smarm his way around in the background (Gary Oldman is pretty spectacular as well).

Zemanta is encouraging me to give you all a picture of the wondrous Tom Hardy, so who am I to disagree?

English: Tom Hardy

Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to everyone for all the fantastic birthday wishes! I have to say, twenty-five feels pretty darn good. 😀 I’ll be working through all the comments and posts that I’ve missed over the last few days, and hopefully I’ll get caught up on bloggy things sometime this week.

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The End of Summer: A Recap

I’ve survived the first week of school, and October is looming before me, cinnamon and pumpkin-scented, filled with the promise of chilly, cozy nights and the inevitable march towards winter.

I really wish leaves on trees changed color where I live. Autumn leaves are so beautiful!

I’ve been a bit remiss when it comes to blogging, responding to comments, and making the rounds through my Google reader, but with my mom in town for a week and a half, and the various challenges related to packing, moving, and doing lots of traveling and sight-seeing, I suppose I was being a little ambitious, thinking I could maintain the approximately three million things I took on over the summer.

Certain things fell by the wayside this month: the awesome Dice Games flash fiction challenge that I had planned on tackling; visiting my fellow #writecampaigners on a regular basis; editing and rewriting TELL ME NO LIES. On the other hand, I’ve had the chance to visit with friends and family, including my mom, my younger sister, and other extended family members.

At any rate, October is almost here, and with school is full swing, I’m reevaluating everything that I have on my plate. I can’t quite give anything up; I refuse to go another semester without writing, and social media and blogging is something that nourishes me in a way that nothing else can. I’ve come to depend on the community and the connections that I’ve made over the past few months, and I don’t plan on walking away from it any time soon.

Instead, what I’ll be doing is retooling the way that I approach my various responsibilities. I’m using Google calendar to create a detailed schedule for myself, setting aside time for writing and social media, time to deal with the mountain of reading I have for class, time to work on my thesis, and time to prep for the sections that I have to teach.

I’m also rethinking how I tackle blogging. While I like the themed days I’ve been trying out over the past few weeks, I think I’m going to have to scale back a bit, at least until l can build up a decent queue of posts. Right now the pace of trying to write and edit daily is way more than I can conceivably handle, so the plan for the moment will consist of ROW80 updates, and one or two extra posts in addition.  We’ll see how it goes!

In the meantime, many fun things have happened in the past weeks. To recap:

Blog Awards!

My fellow ROWer, Em, over at Loves to Read, Wants to Write, as well as Miho Li (who I know from the writecampaign), both awarded me the Versatile Blogger. Sorry for taking so long to announce and link back, you two!

I won’t bore everyone with another list of 7 random things, but I will link back to my original post of randomness.

 

Writing Challenges

The 2nd challenge for the Writers’ Campaign was a doozy, one that asked us to use lots of obscure words that I haven’t seen since my SAT prep days, but overall, it was pretty enjoyable.

My entry is “Imago, Shattered,” and one day if I ever have the time, I am going to expand the scene. There’s much more that happens between Robert and Tessa that I couldn’t pack into 200 words.

I also entered Jenny Hansen’s “Dirty Fighting” contest, where we had to write a 150 snippet using any of the 23 Dirty Fighting Techniques she shared on More Cowbell (I encourage everyone to check out the list. It’s a fantastic resource for building tension in your writing).

My entry, along with 2 others, were chosen for an on-screen edit by none other than the Naked Editor herself, Tiffany Lawson Inman. Tiffany took my little drabble of a tale and kicked it up fifteen notches — so. darn. awesome. Check out the original top 3 entries, as well as Tiffany’s mark-ups — I learned a ton from all of her comments.

Rock the ROW!

Round 4 of A Round of Words in 80 Days begins next Wednesday, October 5th. To celebrate the general awesomeness of everyone who has been involved, will be involved, or has supported those who have participated, we are throwing a full-scale, 24 hour long Twitter party. Here are the details, via Jenny Hansen:

  • Theme: “Rock the Row”
    However you want to work that in is great. I leave it to your outrageously creative imagination!
  • Date: October 5th, 12:01 AM to 11:59 PM ET in the U.S.
    This also happens to be the first day of check-in so there should be a ton of ROW80 fun happening around the blogosphere.
  • Party will be held at the #ROW80 hashtag.
    Fire up your Tweet Deck or HootSuite and let’s get jiggy with it.
  • Photo Competition:
    You can start now…we won’t tell. Start digging for or taking photos that reflect the theme. We’ll do our best to gather them and decide on the best to spotlight in a post at the ROW80 blog. One the readers vote, the 1st place winner gets a copy of Kait Nolan’s latest book, Red, in e-book format!!
  • Friendly Blog Competition
    We will also post a mash-up of favorite ROCK THE ROW posts at the Row80 blog.

For my writing friends who haven’t jumped onto the ROW80 bandwagon, I encourage you to do so. The folks who are apart of this community are some of the most supportive I’ve ever met, and there’s nothing better than having a built-in cheerleading squad, especially as November inches closer. I credit ROW80 with helping me break out of a very long, very painful period of writer’s block, and I can’t wait for Round 4 to start. I’ve got some goals that I’m eager to share. 😀

How’s everyone doing? Are you ready for autumn, or hanging on desperately to summer? (I’m part of that latter category, in case you hadn’t noticed. :p)

ROW80: Recovering from Vacation

Happy Hump Day!

I’m back home from the family holiday, and it feels good to be snug in my little apartment once again.  Flying always takes a lot out of me, especially when I have to deal with layovers (and Santa Barbara airport is so tiny that I almost always have at least one layover), so all I want to do today is curl up with a blanket and a good book and do absolutely nothing.  The instructor that I’m TA’ing for is wonderful and told me to go ahead and take today off, so I plan to devour one (or two!) of the Georgette Heyer regency romance novels I have sitting on the shelf.  Grading and thesis-work will commence tomorrow once I’m rested up.

The second half of the trip was absolutely wonderful.  We left my grandfather’s house in southern Nevada Sunday afternoon and made our way to the Las Vegas Strip, where my parents renewed their vows to mark their 25 wedding anniversary.

The Happy Couple

The event turned into a mini-Jamison reunion, with my mom’s younger brother and sister, niece, and father in attendance.

The family (except for me, as I am taking the picture)

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, especially because it was the first family vacation that we’ve taken since I moved out of the house for grad school, three years ago.  Now that my sister has moved out to go to college, finding time for all four of us to be together is a major challenge.  It’s good to be back in Santa Barbara and to have a little quiet time (three women in one family = lots of squabbling), but I do miss having all of them around.  However, I don’t have to despair for long: summer session ends next Wednesday and fall quarter doesn’t begin until the 3rd week of September, so I’ll be driving back to San Francisco next weekend.  I will have six weeks for lots of family time, and even better, lots of non-school time.  I’ll also be able to work on the thesis without other distractions, which means that I should be pretty productive.

Now, for my ROW80 check-in.  I didn’t have internet access Sunday-Tuesday, so I basically worked my smartphone to the bone.  I now know how to utilize my Twitter app, the WordPress app, the MS Word app, and the copy/paste function — all incredibly useful tools for when I’m on-the-go.  I also managed to write for an hour or so each night since the last check-in.  Yesterday was the exception, as I was basically was sitting in an airport or airplane for six hours straight with nothing but my ipod, a blank notebook, and pen (that sounds like some sort of desert island challenge!), so I did a lot more brainstorming.

The breakdown, project-by-project:

Thesis: I took a break from the behemoth that is my thesis for the last few days.  I have a check-in meeting with my advisor by the weekend, so cross your fingers that her feedback is favorable!

Strange Bedfellows: The characters for this story won’t shut up, so at the moment I am a slave to their whims.  However, I was able to put a hold on the snappy and snarky dialogue to focus on developing the first couple of chapters, which is good, because I’ve been writing scenes out of order, just to get them out of my head.  I added another 1400 words to this, which brings the current MS up to about 12,700 words. I went through my notes the other day and realized that this project took over my life at the beginning of July, so yeah, I’m a little shocked at this total word count.

Path to the Peacock Throne: I haven’t written anything new, but I devoted all of yesterday to working on backstory, world-building, and character development.  There’s a lot of stuff that goes down in this tale before the story even begins, so the challenge is (1) getting the details all straightened out and (2) finding a way to allude to the backstory without a major infodump.  I now have many handwritten pages with notes about systems of magic, and fictional civil wars, and my MC’s personality. She is shy and a bit aloof, I think, with a secret wish to travel and explore the world.  She’ll get her wish in Act 2, though not quite in the way she imagined.

That’s all from me right now.  Off to do a bit of bloghopping, and once I am done with that, to grab a book and enjoy a decadently lazy day.

ROW80 Social Media Roundup + Progress Update

Over on the homepage for A Round of Words in 80 Days, Kait Nolan has invited participants to share our Twitter accounts and Google+ pages.  I’m trying to get back into the swing of Twitter, and I’ve just picked up a Google+ account that I don’t quite know what to do with (currently poking at it with a stick to see what it will do), but I’ve posted mine over there nonetheless.  I love connecting with my fellow writers in all ways possible, so add me on G+ and/or follow me on Twitter.  😀  Better yet, check out the rest of the lovelies from ROW80! They’re listing Google+ accounts, as well as Twitter accounts.

In other news, the whole family made it to Nevada in one piece.  We all came together in a rather circuitous way, with Dad leaving San Francisco a day early to drive down (he has to take off a day early to get back to work), Mom and Rowena, my sister, flying from San Francisco on Wednesday, and me flying from Santa Barbara on Wednesday as well.  But we’re relaxing at my grandfather’s gorgeously wonderful retirement house, and although the heat is more than our thin-skinned, Pacific Coast-selves can handle, it’s fun for everyone to be together.

On the writing front: On Wednesday night I hammered out 594 words of a new scene for Strange Bedfellows, along with 1379 words worth of brainstorming.  I also started drafting a blog post (currently at 704 words) for Sunday’s ROW80 check-in, since I’ll be on the road to Vegas and potentially without internet access until next Wednesday morning. And then yesterday I suffered through a migraine and forced myself to edit twenty pages worth of thesis.  I’m not finished with rewrites, sadly, but I abandoned ship to head off and catch the midnight showing of Harry Potter (infinitely more important that limping through edits, I think).  Hopefully I can pull things together by tomorrow morning so I can send it off to my advisor.

Anyway, the family is slowly dressing (one thing that I always forget — how long it takes to get four people showered, dressed, and out of the house) so we can drive into Utah for breakfast, and then onwards to Zion National Park to poke around at nature.

Hope everyone has had a grand week!  Any exciting developments?  Who saw Harry Potter?

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