Winter Isn't Coming...It's Here!

This will likely be a Christmas many in our area will remember for many years to come.  While we were one of the fortunate ones Christmas morning, a lot of people in the surrounding areas were without power before, during, and after the holiday festivities.  Not that we didn't lose power.  We did.  Ours went out and stayed out for a couple of days, but we had heat, water, and limited electricity thanks to the generator.  We could even watch television and play offline video games, if we felt so inclined.  Food was either served cold, picked up from the gas station's Subway station, or cooked on the Coleman stove. 

The reason for these less than ideal living conditions was a beautiful, but destructive ice storm that rained down on us just days before the Jolly Old Elf and his flying reindeer were expected to arrive.  These pictures don't do the scenery any kind of justice.  The light shining on and through the ice was simply stunning. 

While we lost power for a few days, we were very lucky not to lose a bunch of our trees.  Others were not so fortunate.  Ken and the boys had to help clear my in-laws' driveway and garage door.  What a mess!

Unbelievably, my in-laws didn't lose their power.  A blessing, for sure, as they don't have a generator.

You'd think Mother Nature would have been content to drop that loveliness on us and be done with it.  Oh, no.  She has a wicked sense of humor, that one.  Just a week or two later, we got a nice heavy snowfall.

You can't even see the steps leading up to our front porch.  On the bright side, this white landscaping did offer a nice contrast for some pretty cardinals that were feasting at the corn feeder. 

I zoomed as far as my lens would allow, and then digitally zoomed
again before cropping.  Not exactly in focus, but still pretty. 

Some digital zoom. 

No digital zoom.

Now, just a few days later, we've had a wintery rain/snow mix that has melted a lot of this snow and threatens to collapse people's roofs with ice accumulation. On the bright side, we don't have to worry about White Walkers visiting us.  
Image courtesy of 

Writing Confessions

Today's First Writing Confession: 
I worry that my new novel is taking too long to get to the good stuff.  I feel as if I'm still laying the groundwork, which might not be bad thing, but likely is.  The potential for conflict is there, but I've yet to heighten the tension or raise the stakes, and those two things need to happen.  Soon.   

I keep reminding myself that this is the first roughest of drafts.  It's okay if I'm taking too long because I can edit out the unnecessary bits later or rewrite what's there. 

I'm tempted to give what I've written to my sister.  She's biased because she loves me, but she doesn't pull punches when she thinks I've managed to derail a project.  She'll tell me if she's bored or just getting impatient.

Today's Second Writing Confession: 
I haven't worked on the story in a good week and a half.  Finger pointing and scolding encouraged. 

Photo Book

Edited to say: 
I didn't realize this actually attempted to post yesterday.  I thought the system malfunctioned, and I decided it wasn't worth the effort to battle it out.  Seems the system fooled me!

Anyhow, even though I love scrapbooking and have at least a dozen bulky 12x12 photo albums completed, I don't display them because they can be a bit unwieldy.  That's why I've opted to create these little 8x8 photo books from Shutterfly.  Unlike my handmade scrapbooks, these display nicely on my shelf.  For this reason, I've decided to start doing a Year in Review style book each January.  The trick, though, is to work on it throughout the year and have it ready to print when Shutterfly sends me a half-off coupon.

Turn your favorite photos into a photo book at

Reading Goals for 2014

It's time to set new reading goals!

Over on Goodreads, I've already challenged myself to read 100 books in 2014.  It sounds like a lot, but I think it's doable.  Being done with school has really freed up my evenings and weekends.  I no longer have to set aside time to read theory, research topics, or write out assignments of various length and difficulty. Another benefit of finally being done with school is that I am able to select my reading material based on whatever sounds good or catches my eye.  Unless I get a teaching job, there will be no syllabus demanding my attention. 

So, looking at 2014, I'd like to start out with revisiting last year's reading goals and focus on completing the books I had hoped to read in 2013.  There were both Kindle Books I'd Like to Read and  Books on the TBR shelf

I did an okay job with the Kindle books.  Of those listed, these are the only ones I did not attempt: 

Roanoke: The Lost Colony (Keepers of the Ring, #1)   The Heart of a Soiled Dove (Book #1)

However, they are downloaded to the device and ready to be accessed. I expect they will be read early this year.

The more traditional media did not fare as well. I definitely showed a preference for reading on the Kindle - I love the fact that when I'm done reading in bed, I can just turn it off and set it carefully on the night stand. No need to get out of bed and switch off the lights. Yes, I realize a lamp on the nightstand would likely serve me just as well, but there's no room for one. So, the Kindle wins. 

The Diary of a Young Girl  The Stepsister Scheme (Princess, #1)  The Illuminator  Watership Down
Kushiel's Scion (Imriel's Trilogy, #1) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1)

Of the paper and glue variety books, this one made it off the TBR shelf and into my hands.  It's actually the one I've decided to start off my New Year.  It's been a long time since I've read a novel with twins as the protagonists.

Mortal Coils

I also have these four books at various stages of completion.  They're a bit more dense and not as much fun as the fiction, though, so they seem to be taking much longer.  That being said, I aim to finish at least two of the four. Ideally, though, all four would move from "in progress" to "completed" by December 31st of this year.  

The Wave in the Mind: Talks & Essays on the Writer, the Reader & the Imagination  The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences  Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction  The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination

For good measure, and because I think it's a worthwhile goal to set for myself, I also want to read at least two classics.  I'm not sure which two classics I'll settle upon, but you may be sure neither option will be Moby Dick!