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Achievements/Goals August 20th

Welcome back to Achievements/Goals. I missed several postings, because my laptop crapped out on me. I had been making it work for almost a year after my 90 pound dog jumped on it, breaking a hinge, and cracking the bevel around the screen; but every time I moved the stupid thing the the lid moved a little, eventually causing chunks of plastic to break off and about a third of the screen to go black. When faced with the decision of whether to repair it or replace it, I went the repair route which took three weeks.

Hey, did you know that Toshiba no longer makes computers? Well, I didn't until I went to get mine fixed. Apparently, replacement parts have to be hand delivered from Japan, because that's how long it felt like I was sans laptop.

Hey, do you know how much it costs to replace basically the entire lid of a Toshiba laptop? Neither did I until I had to choke back the tears as I handed my credit card to the Geek Squad guy.

Anyway, Achievements:
  1. Um...yeah. Camp NaNoWriMo fell apart for me. I'm not even going to give any excuses as to why I failed to complete it. Having no laptop was one reason, but I was mostly handwriting my manuscript, so I could have still made the word count. I guess it's because the idea I had burning a hole in my brain sort of dead-ended, and I started writing in circles. I could have moved on to something else, but I was being stubborn, and here we are.
  2. Reading: I did get some reading done. I read Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler -  a wonderful book that kept me thinking long after it was over. I can't wait to read the next book in the series (which, sadly is also the last book since Butler died before she could make way with the planned third novel). I read The Valley of Amazement, by Amy Tan - a typically Tanian tale of mothers and daughters that had me up well past my bedtime for several nights. I also read The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, which had me wishing for more stories of Melanie and her "hungry" world. Finally, I spent a few hours with Gwendy's Button Box, by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. So, if I wasn't writing at least I was reading. 
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Goals:

Well, I guess I only have one goal this week. I have to write something. Anything. I'll even give myself a word count: 1500 words. I can do that.

Join me next week for another exciting installment of Achievements/Goals.

Achievements/Goals July 16th

Good Evening. I missed some time, yes. I got busy with life, but I hope to be back on track. Without further ado, here's what has happened over the past couple of weeks:

Achievements
  •  I've been slowly working my way through Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I fell of the wagon pretty hard after four days, but with my low word count goal, it has been fairly easy to make up the lost time. I think I'll be able to finish within goal.
  • I did a reading at my writing group two weeks ago. I got positive comments all around, which surprised me, because I was pretty sure that the best thing I could bring to the table was mediocre. I'm still not ready to accept positive feedback. That's the weirdest thing with me. I will absolutely accept criticism without fail, but give me a compliment, and I'm sure you're "just being nice."
Goals
  • Pretty much the same as they have been. I'm trying to just get myself on a baseline of competence before trying anything new.
  • Continue to write for NaNoWriMo. In addition to reaching my word count, I would at least like to have a basic rough outline of what this story is about, whether it goes beyond an outline or not.
  • Get some reading done.
All right. That's it for me tonight.

Achievements/Goals: July 1st

Another week over, another entry into my achievement/goals list.

Achievements:
  • Started on Camp NaNoWriMo yesterday. I have a ridiculously low word count goal, so I'm pretty much on track two days in. The important thing is that I did write for two days in a row.
  • Wrote two (three if you count this one) new blog posts this week. Woo Hoo for me.
  • I did read, but I definitely need better reading material. I've been trying to read The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, a Dirk Gently story by Douglas Adams, and I just can't. I loved all the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books, but in this case Adams is just not grabbing me.
So Achievements, a little meh for my taste.

Goals for this week:
  • Stay on track for Camp NaNoWriMo.
  • Write another blog post.
  • Find something good to read.
So, easy enough.

Tomorrow is my first reading with my writing group, so I'm kind of freaked out about that. I'm also supposed to start a new job this week, so a little more anxiety. Let's see if I live through the week. Tune in next Sunday for the exciting return of Achievements/Goals.

Cephalopod Coffee House

Hey! I'm back with the Coffee House this month. The purpose of this blog hop is to post about the best book you've read in the past month. You can visit the other participants, starting with our host The Armchair Squid.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/519ypKM1yQL.jpgThis month's selection is A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay.

The Barretts are a normal family featuring Mom and Dad, and two daughters: Marjorie, aged fourteen, and eight-year-old Meredith (Merry). The father has recently lost his job, and Marjorie begins violently acting out, and claims that her head is full of ghosts. After initial treatment for mental illness fails to show improvement, the father begins to suspect that Marjorie's illness is not physical or psychological, but rather spiritual. In an attempt to help Marjorie and the family finances, a TV crew is invited into the home to film a reality show called The Possession. As the fame from the show leaks into their lives, the Barrett family begins to fall apart. The story unfolds in flashback, related by Merry, now an adult attempting to reconcile her childhood memories with her more mature adult understanding of mental illness, and the breakdown of her family, but the question remains: is Marjorie suffering from the early stages of schizophrenia, or is she possessed by a demon?

Merry tells her story based on her own hazy memories, and repeat viewings of The Possession. For a child, a beloved older sibling who suddenly becomes withdrawn, paranoid, and begins complaining of ghosts in her head must be frightening and confusing. The only people she can trust to provide reassuring answers are her parents; but when her parents are themselves grasping at straws, it's difficult for Merry to parse out fact from fiction, even 15 years later.

A Head Full of Ghosts is creepy and unnerving on many levels. Mental illness, demonic possession, family dysfunction - it's all there. Merry is an unreliable narrator, and she admits as much. The reader is left wondering how much of her recollection is fact, fiction or wishful thinking. The writing sets a good pace, never bogging down, and  I read it in two days, staying up until 2 am to finish it, then spent another hour or so processing it before I could even think of sleeping. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I certainly enjoyed this chai.

Thanks for reading. Now's the time for you to saunter off to visit the other Coffee House participants:

Music I'm Obsessed With: Valtari

Sigur Ros is a post-rock band from Iceland who have been making music for over two decades. I have known of them for about seven years, and while I wouldn't exactly call myself a super fan, I am quite obsessed with their 2012 album Valtari.

The thing I like the most about Sigur Ros is the way many of their songs sound ephemeral and dreamlike. While most of their albums contain songs with these qualities, Valtari takes it to a new level. Despite all lyrics being in Icelandic, or Hopelandic (a jumble of nonsense sounds lead singer Jonsi Birgisson uses to fill the space of lyrics and act as another instrument) - or perhaps because of the language barrier - the emotions of the music come through more purely (to me). The vocals soar to the heavens, then sink to a whisper in your ear; the accompanying instrumentation ranges from simple, repetitive melodies to a cacophonous wall of sound. The whole effect leaves me feeling hopeful, yet sad. It's perfect writing music, until I notice it, then I can't not notice it, and nothing is getting done until it's over or I turn it off.

Here are few of my favorites from the album:

Dauðlogn


Ekki Múkk

 

Varúð

Don't ask me how to pronounce any of those song titles, 'cause it's not happening.

Achievements/Goals: June 25th Edition

First, let's look at my Achievements for this past week:
  • Started on a new story. I know I said I wanted to start a new short story, but I got an idea that might be a bit longer, so I have been playing around with that.
  • I did continue to read, but not at a pace that I like. I went back and forth between two books, and I just didn't find either of them all that attention grabbing.
  • I checked in with Camp NaNoWriMo this week to see what cabin I was assigned to. I am also thinking about what I want work on, and how I can be successful.
  • YES, I WROTE A BLOG POST. THIS IS MY ONE BLOG POST FOR THE WEEK. JEEZ!
So, Goals achieved.
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Goals for this week will be pretty much the same:
  • Continue to follow the thread of my story idea.
  • Continue to read.
  • One new blog post. A real one this time.
  • Continue to prep for Camp NaNoWriMo.
That's it for this week.

Accomplishments/Goals

I am attempting a new feature here this week called Accomplishments/Goals. The theme is in the name so here we go.

Accomplishments for the past week:
  • Finished 2 short stories
  • Read 1 1/2 books.
  • Signed up to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in July
Goals for this week:
  • Start a new short story
  • Continue to read
  • Plan for Camp NaNoWriMo
  • Create one new blog post
Alright. Let's do this. See ya next week.