Saturday, August 17, 2013

A New Beginning

Hello faithful Magical Ink followers!
As you've seen, there hasn't been a lot of activity on here lately. I've been really busy since Little T was born, and am just now getting back into writing regularly and my weekly blog at the New Authors Fellowship.
I've been feeling for some time that Magical Ink no longer really fit what I wanted my blog to be. It has been a great few years, but lately I've felt that I boxed myself in to make this a 'writer's blog only'...and as I am so much more than just a writer, I felt stifled.
So I've created a new blog that I hope to update once or twice a month--at least, while I'm still blogging over at NAF. Once I move on from that, I'll update more often. This new blog, Tatterdemalion, is more of a 'lifestyle' blog. I will be talking about my writing, but I'll also include lots of posts on vintage stuff, on the adventures we get up to, and I also hope to include lots of photos of my life. And Little T, of course. ;)
I'll leave Magical Ink up so I don't have to transfer posts I'd like to keep. In time, I might even begin posting reviews regularly on here as I once did.
But for now, those interested in keeping up with my writing and my life can visit Tatterdemalion. I look forward to seeing you there--and again, thank you for the great years here! I hope to see a lot more of them. :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Read So Far This Year...

100 Cupboards; Dandelion Fire; The Chestnut King by N. D. Wilson
This trilogy, about a Kansas boy who finds a wall of cupboards in his bedroom and discovers a magical heritage, is beautiful and weird in a good way.

Divergent, Insurgent by Veronica Roth
I love The Hunger Games, but this series is better in my opinion. One of The Hunger Games' failings was the way it fell into the love triangle trap so popular to YA fiction, and the Divergent series largely avoided that. Plus, as a person who loves studying personalities, the Factions of the Divergent world is fascinating to me.

Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
I love a good fairytale, and the Tales of Goldstone Woods are some of the best I've found. the author did a good job with weaving in bits of old fairytales and picking up threads of previous books to expand upon.

Gunpowder Green; Shades of Earl Grey by Laura Childs
They're not the best-written books, but they're wonderful brain candy. And they have a lot of stuff about tea, which can be over-the-top, but which is also kind of fun to read about to me. :)

Unnatural Death by Dorothy L Sayers
I don't like all of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, but this one is a pretty good puzzle. Lots of twists.

The Jane Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
I remember reading the second book in this series a few years ago...I don't think I finished it. I recently ran across the author's name again and thought I'd try again. It's a really convoluted storyworld--time is in major flux and there are lots of weird things going on, including the theft and change of old book manuscripts. I'm not sure what I think of this one...I want to like it because it's such a book-nerd book, but for some reason that I can't quite put my finger on, this wasn't fascinating to me. 

Elementary, My Dear Watkins by Mindy Starns Clark
This whole series is like a chick-lit and a mystery rolled into one--a gal who writes household tips columns and also solves murder mysteries. They're fun light reads.

Murder In Retrospect by Agatha Christie
It's a Hercule Poirot book, which to me means a perfect mystery read. Poirot has to solve a 16-year-old murder. 

The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn
The sequel to Night Train to Rigel, which is a hardboiled detective story set in a sci-fi universe. It's some of the only science fiction I like, and definitely a good one to check out.

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
A girl playing a virtual role-playing game gets stuck thanks to sabotage, and has only a limited amount of time to win the game and escape the virtual reality before her brain is fried. Again, not the best-written book, but an entertaining fantasy.

Bid the Gods Arise by Robert Mullin
An epic that throws fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural stuff all into a mishmash that somehow works--and does so brilliantly. There are definitely some adult themes, but all handled fairly tastefully.

Imager's Intrigue by L. E. Moddesitt Jr
I love the magic system in this series, but even better is the political and social intrigue the main character, Rhenn, manages to get himself tangled into. I've never read fantasy books before that have such a complicated and workable social system.

Seeking Unseen by Kat Heckenbach
The sequel to Finding Angel--and just as good. More expansion on Toch Island, more Kalek, more Horatio...what could be better?

As you can see, I've mostly been in the mood for murder mysteries lately...I usually go through a phase or two a year where I re-read all my Poirots, Tea Shop Mysteries, Sherlocks, and Father Browns. It sounds weird, but I read murder mysteries like some women might read chick lit, for a light, brain candy read. I think it's because I know I absolutely suck at/have no desire to re-try writing mysteries, so I can completely turn off my brain while I'm reading them. About the only mysteries I've ever read that I can't turn my brain off are Back On Murder; Pattern of Wounds; Nothing To Hide by J. Mark Bertrand, because the man is a genius and probably the single best Christian author out there today. I wish I'd gotten a chance to discuss writing with him when I attended Worldview Academy and he was a lecturer there, but I was too shy...a mistake I certainly wouldn't make today.

On the TBR Pile:
The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams
Avenir Eclectia: Volume 1 (to Justin aloud, since he won't read things on his own)
Hero of the Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Weirdest Valentine's Day Ever...

Probably not our last weird one, since by this time next year we'll have an almost-1-year-old, but definitely the strangest I've experienced thus far.

Last Saturday, Justin took me on an early Valentine's Day to the nicest restaurant in town--"our last big fling before baby", as he said--then we went to a college hockey game. The restaurant was delicious, and the hockey game so much fun. I hadn't been to one in years, and Justin had never been. Oh yes, and he also got me flowers and spent a lot of time working on my Jeep so I actually have decent heat in it. :)

So for the real Valentine's Day, I had planned a nice dinner at home, something a bit nicer and more elaborate than our typical dinner.

Then on Wednesday, I woke up coughing like crazy, with a headache, stuffed sinuses, a small fever, and achy muscles. I spent most of Wednesday sleeping, since I hadn't gotten much sleep for several nights before. Justin got off work a little early to drive me to my doctor's appointment. For the past couple of weeks, we've been doing a weekly no-stress test where I'm monitored for about 30 minutes to keep an eye on baby movements and heartbeat.

On Wednesday's test they tracked what looked like 2 contractions, though they said that it could be from my coughing. I wasn't dilated at all and I hadn't actually felt any pain from the supposed contractions, so the doctor told me to rest, hydrate, and keep track of Toby's movements. That rattled my nerves a little. We spent the rest of the day taking it easy...Justin wouldn't let me out of the recliner. He even went to the store, got some frozen pizza for supper, and bought me some of my favorite iced tea.

Because we were both a little rattled and our sleep schedule has been a bit weird, we both fell asleep early, then woke up at 1 on Thursday morning. We ended up not sleeping again, just staying up talking and watching a new TV series we'd discovered on Netflix (Terra Nova). Justin went to work, and I spent the day taking dozing and watching TV. When he got home from work, he slept for a couple of hours, then helped me fix supper (all the while telling me to go sit, which I finally did so), and we finished off Valentine's Day watching more Terra Nova and Top Gear.

It was such a weird day. But I have to say that in a way, it was the sweetest Valentine's Day too. It reminded me how sweet and protective of a hubby I have. I do think I have the best guy in the world. :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

this year, no excuses

1) I want to continue last year's goal of getting in better shape. I don't think I'm horribly out of shape, even with being pregnant, but it's hard to keep up exercising and all while pregnant and in the middle of winter. I don't think it will be too hard...we're looking for a good bike pull-behind that will support an infant, we're also looking for a treadmill, and rock climbing shouldn't be difficult either as long as we have three people.

2) Integrating a baby into our lifestyle. Justin & I have decided that while there are obvious allowances we have to make with a baby (having to get a sitter if we want to go on a date, or mudding, or mountain biking), we don't want to become a family that is totally kid-centric. We will plan awesome fun things when our kids are old enough, and yes, as they grow they will be involved in sports and music if they so wish, but we're not going to fall into the trap of running like mad people every night of the week for kids' activities...we value our simple life and our family too much to do that. Justin & I started this family unit, and we believe that our marriage comes first as much as is possible without neglecting the kids.

3) I want to learn how to manage my time better. I sat down late last year and made a sort of "time diary" where I wrote down everything I do every week and how long it takes. Turns out, if I managed time properly, I could get four hours of cleaning every day (more than enough for us!), four hours of writing, eight hours of sleep, and still have eight hours of free time--which sounds simple, when you think about it, but seeing it in writing boggled my mind.

 How much time do I really waste every day? I really have no excuse to let unfolded laundry sit for a week, or to take three years to finish a book (really...if I write 500 words an hour, which is my average since I'm a slow writer, and do that for four hours a day five days a week, that adds up to 520,000 words a year...which is insane...)

As I look at it, I know that there will be days that are busier than usual where I don't get as much done...or vacations...or days I'm too tired to do much...or days I just take off and do something fun with Justin & Toby because family comes first...but when it comes down to it, I have no excuses not to keep our house clean, my writing going, and still have time to enjoy our life.

There are more things I'd like to get done, but those are what I'm focusing on this year. And really, if I look at everything I'd like to accomplish, there are two words that come into my mind to describe it all...


So there you have it. My word(s) for 2013. No excuses. I will get exercising done, I will manage my time, I will be an excellent mom while still being an excellent wife.

I certainly don't expect myself to be perfect, and I'm not going to fall into the trap of beating myself up if I fail one day, but I am determined this year to make changes and make them stick.


All blog content copyrighted 2012 by H. A. Titus