Monday, January 21, 2019

#MondayMotivation, #Inspiration, And #Wisdom - #Quotes For January 21st 2019

Beauty is so quietly woven through our ordinary days that we hardly notice it.
~John O'Donohue

A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart.
~Joseph Addison

If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively.
~Dalai Lama

Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
~John Wooden

Be a true representative of the goodness in your heart, and don't expect it to be easy or even noticed.
~Adyashanti

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
~Mahatma Gandhi

Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.
~Jenni Young

Friday, January 18, 2019

#FurkidFriday: Maizie The #Chinchilla Celebrates Her Third Birthday

Hi everyone. This is Maizie the chinchilla.

I had one of those birthday things on Sunday. I'm three years old now, just like Mollie.

The human caretakers got me and Mollie a new bowl as my birthday present, and filled it with some of my most favourite nibbles when they gave it to us. There's some of our actual food in there, along with Cheerios, oatmeal, raisins, and dandelion roots.

Here's a photo of me enjoying my birthday nibbles from my new purple bowl:


I don't mind that my birthday present is something for both me and Mollie to share. We share everything anyhow. Besides, I got first pick of the nibbles in it, which I'm happy about. Plus, we did need a new bowl.

So, that was how I celebrated turning three. With a new bowl, and some of my favourite nibbles. It was a nice way to celebrate my third birthday. At least, I think so.

I love these birthday things!

Squeak soon,
Maizie

Thursday, January 17, 2019

#AmReading + #AmWatching - January 17th 2019 #Reviews

It's time to take a look at what I've been reading and watching during the past week.

If you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question. Please bear in mind that the format I've reviewed on Goodreads may not be the format I actually read.

Alternatively, if it's a movie or TV show you want to know more about, just click on the title to go to a page where you can find out more details about the movie or TV show in question; the title links will usually take you to a page on IMDB.

Don't forget: I read and watch things across multiple genres, as well as for different age ranges, so you should always check before reading or viewing, to make certain something is suitable for the intended audience, especially when children are involved.

OK...

Here's what I read this week:

The Calling (Mae Martin Mysteries #1)The Calling by Amber Foxx
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an excellent and well-written book, with a fantastic cast of characters. There was less mystery than one might expect to find in the first book of a series where the word "mystery" actually appears in the series name, which is why I hesitate to give it the full five stars. Still, it was an enjoyable read, and I look forward to continuing the series. Perhaps, as I continue the series, the mystery of the presence of the word "mystery" in the series name will be revealed?

Shaman's Blues (Mae Martin Mysteries #2)Shaman's Blues by Amber Foxx
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having enjoyed book one, I was eager to read this book. I was not disappointed. In fact, this second book in the series is even better than the first, since it actually involves more of the mystery aspect the series title led me to expect.

As for what I've been watching:

I managed to watch two DVDs this week. I watched the final disk of season seven of NCIS. I also watched the "Incredibles 2" movie. Since it was a new to me movie, I've reviewed it below.

Incredibles 2 (2018 movie):
This was a really great movie. It's action-packed, often entertaining, and also contains some touching scenes. If you enjoyed the first movie, you'll enjoy this one too. I give this movie five out of five stars.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

#WriterWednesday - January 16th 2019

Are you planning to self-publish a book in 2019? If yes, you might be interested in reading this series of posts by a fellow self-published author. She starts you off with the basics, and then tells you a bit more about guidelines for if you decide to publish with KDP, as well as the basics for if you want to publish with Smashwords. She also talks a little about marketing.

Oh, and here's another author's step-by-step guide to publishing a book on KDP.

Of course, before you worry about publishing, you have to write that book, which is sometimes difficult to find time to do. Take it from someone who happens to be struggling with that exact issue at the moment (which I've talked about before, so I won't go in to details of again). If that's the case for you too, check out this advice on how to write when you're busy and stressed, and everything is chaos, because there's always something in your way. Remember: if whatever writing schedule you set doesn't work, just admit you failed - then start over.

Don't forget you need to take care of your physical health while writing. Especially if you're a full time writer, or someone else who spends a lot of time sitting down (whether because of writing or not). So, here are some ways to keep yourself moving throughout the day.

Now let's talk about the actual writing of your story. In fact, let's discuss the writing of scenes. Or, perhaps, I'll just let you read this post containing questions to consider when writing a scene. Yes, that will be easier.

By the way, if what you're writing is the kind of story where your character needs to find various items to complete their quest, you might want to read these tips to working with a collecting quest story.

Do you write poetry? Or, perhaps, you'd like to? Then check out this list of poetic forms.

Thinking of writing a series? Jemima Pett shares the things she learned while writing hers, which you can use as tips for writing your own.

Whatever you write, don't forget to back up your writing!

Oh, and here's a writers' guide to boats and ships, and a writers' guide to martial arts, which are part of the writers' guide series and may be of use to you. Or, if they aren't, some of the other posts in the series might be.

Finally, always remember: just start the thing - even if you're not sure you'll keep doing it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Weather Reports, Medical Mutterings, And #Crafting Kits

Other than not being particularly warm, the weather has been all over the place. We've had clear sunny days, and cloudy days. Wet days and dry days. Stormy days, and mild days. Still no snow though. It's been cold all the time, even on the sunny days. But obviously things haven't been quite right for snow. Rain, like I said. Even hail. Oh, and a bit of ice and fog too. But not snow. Although, they say we'll get some soon... Maybe this week. I hope so. More than anything though, I hope our snow doesn't come while I'm in hospital, or right after I'm home, when I'm not going to be able to run downstairs to play with it. That would be incredibly annoying.

Speaking of annoying things: I started getting all sniffly, like I was getting a cold, just before the Winter Solstice. I took strong cold and flu medication, and got rid of it quickly. But then I got a dry cough just as we were heading in to the new year. So I took strong stuff for that too. I usually give a few days to let my body try and fight it, and then use natural remedies first, avoiding anything stronger unless I really can't shake it. But I couldn't risk it lingering with my surgery coming up, so I hit it hard with the strongest stuff we could get over the counter. Either I wasn't going to get much anyhow, or it worked, because I'm fine now.

Another annoying thing that happened concerns my surgery date. my surgery was rescheduled. I got a call about it in the middle of the holidays. It's now two weeks later. I'll be going in on February 7th instead. That means, instead of being in nine days time, my surgery is now in a little over three weeks. At least that's still soon. It's kind of frustrating though.

One comforting thought though is that they should have a note on my file saying they can't reschedule again, because I pointed out to them that my not being able to have January's shot - which I'm not allowed to have, because it would be too close to my surgery date (there's meant to be four or more weeks between the last shot and the surgery) - means there's a risk of the shot wearing off enough for the bleeding issue to start again, which risks me being back to ending up back in hospital because of needing blood transfusions, which - as I pointed out - wouldn't be a good thing. In theory, the surgery date is still close enough to the last shot that this won't happen, but if they delayed it again... Well, I think you get the point.

On the subject of my bloods: they had no trouble taking blood for the blood test in mid December. Also, as we thought would be the case, the fact the shots are doing their thing makes a huge difference, since I learned when I went in for my pre-op assessment five days later that my levels were actually up above the normal range now. The iron tablets, combined with the lack of blood loss, have meant my HB levels were at 16.3 or 163. I was told to continue taking the iron tablets for now, but this means I shouldn't need to continue doing so after surgery, and they now have clear evidence that I was right about what the problem was, in case what happened in August wasn't enough evidence for them. Hopefully my levels being above normal, and the continuation of the iron tablets to keep them that way, will help me avoid problems in those couple of extra weeks, when the shot could start wearing off.

Anyway, everything went relatively smoothly for the pre-op assessment, apart from my veins being reluctant to give up any blood. Apparently, my veins said five days wasn't enough of a break. But, as it turned out, since they already know my blood type from my hospital visits earlier in the year, and before that, and I'd had the test the week before because of checking my iron anyhow, it didn't actually matter, so they stopped trying after only one failed attempt. I'm definitely not complaining about that, as I'm sure you can imagine.

My blood pressure was up a little on the day of my pre-op assessment. But it wasn't too high, and considering both me and the nurse were getting frustrated with the machine - which took four attempts to be persuaded to give a reading - I think it was fine. The nurse seemed to agree.

They weighed me while I was there, but didn't complain about my lack of success in the weight loss area either, which was nice. I think the clear evidence of the issues being caused by the bleeding, and the fact I've now had so many of these shots, has temporarily stopped their arguments. Of course, I'll probably get a post-op lecture about how I should get weight off after I've had my recovery time. But I already want to do that anyhow, so whatever. Not that I plan to start going on an actual diet, or heading out to the gym. But I wouldn't mind losing some weight, and plan to try and get out more, and continue being more sensible with my food choices.

Oh, if you're wondering: I was exactly the same weight as I had been a little over two weeks before, when I'd gone for my end of November shot. I didn't bother getting them to weigh me when I went for the last shot at the end of December, since I'd only been weighed 10 days before, and they'll want to weigh me again on the day of surgery anyhow. Plus, it was a couple of days after Christmas, and who wants to be weighed that close to Christmas? Not me, that's for sure!

So, I had my final shot on December 28th. It would have been due again on January 25th. But, as I mentioned above, I'm not allowed to have that one, because it's too close to my surgery date. It would have worked out perfectly, since it would have been due right as I was having the surgery, but them rescheduling means I'll have a couple of weeks between when it would have been due, and when I go in for surgery. I'm crossing my fingers that's not enough time for the bleeding to start back up again. Hopefully it wears off as slowly as it originally kicked in, since that took a couple of months to happen, which would give time for me to have the surgery before it wears off, by which time it would be too late for it to make the bleeding start up. I really hope that's how it works out!

So... Now I'm all set for surgery on February 7th. Even have some special drink stuff they've started giving out before surgery to make sure patients have all the vitamins and things they need to get the best chance of recovery. I have to admit, I'm not looking forward to tasting it. The nurse commented on how, "People have found putting it in the fridge improves the flavour," which makes me suspect the flavour is bad enough to need that improvement. I've put it in the fridge, so it will be nicely chilled for when I need to be drinking it. But, as I said, I'm not looking forward to doing so.

I'm glad nasty neighbour isn't here any more, since I need to be having my breakfast about 7:00am on surgery day. If I haven't had it by 7:30am, I'll have to go without until after surgery. That idea doesn't appeal to me, so I'm glad I'll be able to get up and have breakfast early, and that the neighbours we have now are nice enough that they'll understand.

By the way... Just so you know: because of our stairs I can almost certainly expect to be in hospital at least close to a week, since they won't want me doing all those stairs too soon after surgery. The nurse told me that straight during the assessment. I'd suspected as much though.

In fact, I'd already started planning posts to go up while I'm probably stuck in hospital. Posts I then rescheduled when I got the new surgery date. Yes, I'll have my Kindle with me, so there will be reviews when I'm home and up for sorting them. But I've scheduled some posts for while I know I'll be in hospital, while I might be in hospital, and when I should be home but want to give myself a few days before needing to worry about blog posts too much. This essentially adds up to about two and a half weeks of posts. I've actually scheduled posts for all my posting slots - that's all days except Saturdays and Sundays - from February 8th through to February 25th. I should be home long before that... In theory I'll be home by Valentine's Day, possibly sooner... But it gives me time to take at least a few days before needing to worry about sorting posts. If something happens that I'm not... Well, you'll have to do without posts until I am. Except the Monday ones, which I actually have scheduled right up until early April.

Honestly, I didn't have much to do to get those couple of weeks fully filled. The days were mostly already filled, between my getting tag-happy, setting up the quote posts, and doing the fun themed thing I've got going on for the Friday posts. I won't be sharing any of the posts that go up while I'm in hospital across social media until I get home though. It's a lot of hastle trying to do it on my phone or Kindle, so I'm not even going to bother trying. But at least those who come directly to my blog looking for posts, or who have them delivered by eMail, will have posts to read during that time. I'll share them all on Twitter and Facebook when I'm home and able to do so. I'll catch up with comments then too. Of course, I won't be doing these things immediately after I get home. Hence giving myself those extra days.

I know people understand if I can't be here to do posts. But it matters to me, and makes me feel better to have tried.

So, what is this Friday feature I keep mentioning?

Lilie and Joshua are both inviting some online furry friends over for a visit to the blog. Spacifically, they're inviting the furry family members of some writers I know over for a bit of a chat.

I originally started it as just something fun to fill the Fridays I needed to schedule ahead of time. In fact, still expecting to be doing that, I rescheduled the original person's post when my surgery date got moved. But I was having so much fun doing it, and everyone I invited to participate was happy to accept my invitation, so I'm going to be making it a regular feature. From the end of January through all of February, it's happening every week, so I can focus on dealing with medical stuff. After that I'll be making it a monthly thing, so I can do it in between my regular Friday posts.

In other news...

Our stockings and holiday decorations are now all packed away until the end of the year. I even have the sugarplum fantasies scented candle to enjoy again next Solstice and Christmas, since I didn't end up lighting it for long this time around, so have packed it away with the other decorations. I took advantage of Kelly taking Lilie to the groomer on January 3rd for her claws to be trimmed - she doesn't file them down properly, even though she does walk a lot on hard surfaces... That happens a lot with little dogs - to put them away without "help" from her. Kelly and Lilie weren't gone as long as expected, but I was literally putting the last one away when they got home, so that worked out well.

On the subject of decorative things: my December Makerly box arrived in mid December. It contained a couple of kits. One is a calender, and there are a couple of other kits in the box. It actually arrived in time that I could have mentioned it the Tuesday before Christmas, but Makerly likes to keep their box contents secret until at least most of them should have arrived with people, so I waited to mention it on my blog, so they could make their own online announcements of its contents first, and then was busy posting holiday and goal posts. Not that many - if any - of the other subscribers would have seen it mentioned in my post, but whatever. Unfortunately, waiting this long means I now can't remember everything that was in the box, and I can't be bothered to go look. Anyway, despite having a couple of kits I still haven't done yet, I'm already looking forward to finding out what will be in January's box when it arrives, which it should do soon... It should arrive the end of this week, or early next week at the latest.

I didn't get to look forward to January's SewMine box though, since the SewMine box is no longer going to be coming. I got an eMail from them towards the end of December saying they wouldn't be doing them after December. Something about a change of circumstances. That's the box the table runner and Christmas mouse kits came from. They were nice little kits, so I think it's a shame. It can't be helped though. I've got a couple of the kits I already had from them to do yet, since I haven't had time to do the owl from November, or the kits that came in December's box. But still. I was going to try and see if any of their old kits were still available, and buy some of them with some of my Christmas money, but their website doesn't even seem to be available any more, so I guess that's not an option. Oh, well. At least I have the kits I got before they closed, and I still have my Makerly and Harry Potter boxes to look forward to.

So, that's about all there is to say about what's been going on around here, except for the fact we have someone coming to fix the buzzer thingy... You know? The intercom buzzer phone thing for knowing people are at the main door, and letting them in? Yeah.. That one. Hopefully someone will come to fix it this week (assuming the repair guy doesn't have anything more urgent come up, and bad weather doesn't stop him getting back for any reason). It's broken again. Actually, it's not worked right since nasty neighbour left. I think her putting something to hold her buzzer's button down - which she then left on her buzzer when she left, forcing us to put up with the buzzers playing up until someone could get in to her place to release her buzzer's button - damaged it. Like I said, it's been playing up since then. It's gotten gradually worse, and now we have to all go to the main door to let people in if they try to buzz (and can't even tell them we're on our way, since the speakers aren't working properly either). Hopefully it will be fixed soon, and will stay fixed with her gone. Anyway, they came to take a look at it yesterday (Monday) to see what they'd need to do to fix it, and are meant to be coming back to actually do so soon. I hope very soon. It would be nice to have that working again before I go in for surgery, since I'm not exactly going to be able to rush downstairs while recovering from that if Kelly's out and someone needs letting in. At least if it's working, I can let them in, and at most will only need to do the one flight of stairs to meet them at our apartment door (and can do that flight more slowly). In fact, if it's the postman, and if I don't have to sign for anything, I can just let him in the building, and tell him to leave the post downstairs for Kelly to grab on his way back up.

Since I don't have anything else to say, and this post has gotten kind of long anyhow, I'll let this do for today.

Monday, January 14, 2019

#MondayMotivation, #Inspiration, And #Wisdom - #Quotes For January 14th 2019

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.
~Winston Churchill

You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.
~Charles Buxton

Stop inviting people who don't celebrate you to your party! It's YOUR life - you have the right to be exclusive.
~Mandy Hale

Study as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.
~Maria Mitchell

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.
~A.A. Milne

Beauty is so quietly woven through our ordinary days that we hardly notice it.
~John O'Donohue

None of us suddenly becomes something overnight. The preparations have been in the making for a lifetime.
~Gail Godwin

Friday, January 11, 2019

#FurkidFriday: A Very #Westie #Christmas 2018

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

It's finally my turn to tell you about my Christmas. So...

My Christmas started with turkey dinner at Oscars. I'm not sure who Oscar actually is, but when Mummy and Daddy say we're going there, we see nice people, and I often get some nice food. Plus, we get walkies during the same outing. I love it!

Anyway, a few days later, Santa Paws brought us some great stuff!

There was some great stuff in my stocking. Here are some photos of me checking out my stocking, and Mummy giving me my first toy (a rope tuggy toy) and treat (a small rawhide Christmas tree) from it:


And some other presents too. In fact, here's a video of me opening one of the things Santa Paws left for me:







There's both a squeaky turkey and a sprout dog toy in the package. But I loved the sprout so much I've hardly played with the turkey. I love Sprouty! Here I am on the sofa with Sprouty and the turkey:


I also got some new balls. But I don't have photos of them to show you. Here's a photo of me being given one of the rawhide crackers I got from Santa Paws though... I got a whole pack of these...


Another thing I got was a harder puzzle toy. Here's a video of the first time I tried to do it:







Daddy stopped recording at that point, because both he and I thought I was done. Turned out I missed one. But everyone says that's really great for my first ever attempt at a level three puzzle (my old one, which I can do in 15 seconds, is level 2). Yes, it really was the first time I tried that puzzle. I'd never even seen one like that before.

So, that was my Christmas. Can we have more Christmas soon... Please?


It turns out there was more Christmas!

I went to the groomer to have my nails trimmed last week, and since Nana sent me some money, Daddy took me to the petstore place to spend it after we were done at the groomer. He let me pick my own stuff. I picked a big rawhide shoe - because you can never have too many of those - and a chicken toy that's part squeaky teddy, and part tuggy toy. Here are a couple of photos of Mummy giving him back to me, after we got home with him:


Mummy and Daddy say I'm going to have to wait months and months for more Christmas now though. Apparently Santa Paws isn't going to come again until December. I wonder why he only comes once a year? Well, anyway, I know I have a birthday in there somewhere, so that will help make the wait not seem so long. Although, I'm hoping there will also be plenty more trips to the petstore place too, since that's always fun. Not quite as much fun as Christmas, but pretty close.

Also, I've got a trip to the groomer booked for Friday March 22nd at 10:30am. Mummy and Daddy say I'll get a full grooming session that day. It's right before my birthday, so it will be just right to be at my most beautiful for my birthday photos (my birthday is March 26th, for those who don't know).

Lots of licks,
Lilie

Thursday, January 10, 2019

#AmReading + #AmWatching - January 10th 2019 #Reviews

It's time to take a look at what I've been reading and watching since the start of January.

If you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question. Please bear in mind that the format I've reviewed on Goodreads may not be the format I actually read.

Alternatively, if it's a movie or TV show you want to know more about, just click on the title to go to a page where you can find out more details about the movie or TV show in question; the title links will usually take you to a page on IMDB.

Don't forget: I read and watch things across multiple genres, as well as for different age ranges, so you should always check before reading or viewing, to make certain something is suitable for the intended audience, especially when children are involved.

OK...

Here's what I read this week:

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a pretty good read. It didn't grab my attention and hold it fast or anything, but I did enjoy it once I got in to it. It's quite slow-paced though, so if you like your fantasy to be fast-paced and action-packed, this probably isn't for you. Like I said though, I thought it was a pretty good read.

Divided Paths (Afterlife, #4)Divided Paths by Katrina Cope
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was an awesome read! It's a fantastic addition to the series, but also a wonderful read in its own right. The plot grabs your attention right away, and holds it through an emotional and action-packed rollercoaster ride until the end. The only thing that stopped me reading this book in one sitting was the fact other commitments, and the requirement of sleep, made it impossible.
*NOTE: I was given a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced either my opinion of the book, or the contents of my review.

I did also read another book. I re-read "Wuthering Heights" too. However, since I've read it before, I don't need to review it. Besides, the fact I re-read it should be enough to tell you I enjoyed it, since I'm not likely to read something again if I didn't enjoy it the first time.

As for what I've been watching:

I haven't watched any movies since the start of January - new to me or otherwise. I did watch a DVD though. Where I keep only watching a DVD here, and another there... The most I've managed in one day is two DVDs... I'm still trying to get caught up with what I have of NCIS, even though I only have up to about season 10. Anyway, I've now almost finished season 7. I watched disk five of six in season 7 of NCIS on the weekend. The chinchillas are more caught up on NCIS than I am, since they've been watching it on TV. Good thing they're happy to watch it again. Anyway, I have nothing new to me that needs to be reviewed, but at least I watched a DVD that I wanted/needed to catch up on watching.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

#WriterWednesday - January 9th 2019

In case you missed the post about it at the end of December: "The Great Tadpole Rescue" is now available in audio via Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. The narrator is Jenny Bacon, who I've worked with on several of my other titles. You can find more details about the book, along with a variety of purchase links, in the post I just linked to, including ones for the paperback and eBook versions of the book. But here's a quick link for those who want to buy the book on Audible.

Speaking of my books: the Amazon versions of my books are now all linked, and listed on my Amazon author page. Are yours? If not, you should probably fix that. Not sure how to? This article will tell you how to combine editions on your Amazon sales page.

Also, the Kindle version of "Frank The Friendly Ogre" is now listed as free, like the eBook version is everywhere else. I won't bore you with details of why that took until now to achieve. So, you naturally still have to pay for the paperback and audio book versions, because of production costs. But you can get the eBook for free everywhere it's sold now.

In other news: I recently wrote a short guest post comparing the accessibility of Smashwords and Amazon, based on self-published authors who are using those publishing platforms while using JAWS and Firefox (what I use). It went live on January 1st, if you didn't see it and would like to read it.

Enough about me though.. Let's talk about you. So...

Here's how to achieve your 2019 goals, if you have goal lists for this year - whether writing related or not.

By the way, do you ever just sit quietly, doing nothing, until you get bored? If not, maybe you should, especially if you're a bit stuck for ideas for your writing. All writers must learn to be bored, at least some of the time. Remember to give yourself the gift of muse time, during the holidays, and throughout the rest of the year. I'm sure you can figure out where your muse hides, and remember to celebrate the weird stuff.

Speaking of your muse: here's a fun post with some suggestions for when you get an idea during bed time. You can take them as seriously as you like. *wink*

So, what if someone steals your high concept book idea? Well, if you really want to do something to try and avoid it, the post I just linked to does have some suggestions. However, the short answer to that question is actually that it doesn't matter. As long as they don't totally steal your book, writing it the way you do, you don't really need to worry. There are only so many plots out there. It's the telling that makes a story unique. So, just write your story, and don't worry about it. That's my advice, anyhow.

Speaking of writing your story....What is amaphora, and how can you use it in fiction writing? Check out the post I just linked to, and you'll find out.

Next, here's an informative post to help with getting to grips with passive voice, and one with some tips on how to write thoughts in fiction.

If your fiction feels a bit stale, try one of these fiction writing ideas to revitalize your story.

If the problem is with your characters, try creating characters with inherent conflict, and see if that improves things. Chances are, it will.

By the way, if you're thinking of producing your book in audio using ACX, as I myself have done, you might like to check out this mini-series of posts Don has put together on creating an audio book using ACX. Here's part 1, here's part 2, and here's part 3.

Finally, if you're looking for some promotional opportunities, don't forget there are plenty of bloggers out there willing to help. Sue has offered guest spots on her blog, and Don is inviting you to come be interviewed for his 2019 author interview series, for example. There are many others, and I'm not going to list them here, but a quick search should give you a list. Just remember to read any guidelines they have listed first.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Celebrating 2018's #WinterSolstice And #Christmas, And I Suppose The #NewYear Too

I know we're a little over a week in to January, but I had a few other things I wanted to post first. Plus, we needed time to sort the photos and videos that were on the camera. Hence you only getting the rodent gang's Christmas post this past Friday. You'll get Lilie's one this coming Friday. Anyway...

We had our Christmas dinner at Oscars on the Winter Solstice. Yes, that was intentional. I mentioned in a previous post that I picked the 21st of December as the date for our dinner on purpose. Well, that was the reason: so we could have it on the day we celebrate the Winter Solstice. Had the weather been nice enough, we'd have had it practically on the beach. But the weather wasn't too good - it wasn't really nasty, but it was a bit too cold and windy to be eating outside - so we went inside to eat. We were still on the seafront anyhow, and it was still lovely. Plus, we did have to walk along the seafront to get there, so we did get to spend some time on the beach that day. Even if it was just to walk to and from Oscars.

It was a three course meal. Kelly and I both had the soup for a starter, though I can't remember now what kind of soup it was, even though I knew both when we ordered it back in November, and when we were eating it last week. It was definitely vegetarian friendly though. For the main course, Kelly had a turkey dinner, I had a nut roast dinner, and even Lilie got a bit of turkey. For dessert, I had Christmas pudding with cream, and Kelly had the cheese board (and I think gave a little cheese to Lilie). Since we don't drink alcahol, we were drinking cola during our meal. Oh, and we had Christmas crackers too, complete with lame jokes I can't remember, silly paper hats, and little "toys" (one of our crackers had a giant plastic paperclip in it, the other had a little spinning top... I've now got the spinning top). I even wore the paper hat throughout the meal (I had a yellow one). Kelly wouldn't wear his though. No. I don't have photos to share from our meal. We had the camera with us, but were too busy enjoying ourselves to remember to take photos.

Since we had our Christmas dinner at Oscars, we didn't bother cooking one for Christmas day. So, most of the rest of the holiday festivities involved nibbling on holiday goodies while reading Christmasy stories, or watching holiday movies, with breaks to talk to family and friends. It was great! There were plenty of sweet mince pies, fruit cake, gingerbread men, chocolate log cakes, satsumas, grapes, cheese and cranberry sandwiches, and a few other goodies. Of course, the chocolate log cakes were only for Kelly, and the mince pies and fruit cake were only for me. But we would have shared with each other if the other had wanted any of what we had. There was cocoa too... Even some with cinnamon in... Though that was mostly me. That makes it sound like we spent the whole time eating holiday goodies, but we didn't... Remember this was all spread out over about a week. Actually, the goodies were spread out over all of December, though I do admit we ate more of them over the week containing the Winter Solstice and Christmas.

Anyway, I read more than a dozen Christmas themed books this month, which I've reviewed on Goodreads already, and shared the reviews for on here in my review catch-up post last week. I also watched several holiday movies, including two new to me ones (which were reviewed in a post at the very end of December) and some old favourites. Of course, I watched "Santa Clause - The Movie" and read "The Bear Father Christmas Forgot" on Christmas Eve, like I always do. It's become a sort of tradition for me, and I love it!

We got a few more cards from family and friends, which got put up on the door by the sparkly snowflakes and bells. One from our friends, Lorna and Andy. One from my friend, AliceKay. One from my brother, Carl, and his girlfriend, Tory. One from my Mam. As well as one from my Uncle Phillip and Aunty Bev. Here they all are:


There were presents too, of course.

"Santa" filled our stockings with tasty goodies, which Lilie was quick to notice...

(You should be able to tell which is my stocking, and which is Kellys, but - since the furkids' stockings don't have their names on them - I'll tell you that the polar bear one is Lilie's stocking, and the other one is for the rodent gang).

One of the things in my stocking was a Kinder Surprise Santa, and it had this little angel in it:

(The little spinning top beside her is the one that came in my Cracker).

I also got some giraffe themed tableware...


A kit to make an elephant...


And a meerkat, who I've decided to name Drusilla, in honour of my meerkat encounters when I went to Drusillas for my keeper for the day experience. So, here's Drusilla the meerkat:


Plus, I had some teatree scented bath stuff, a few books (including a braille vegetarian recipe book, which is 16 braille volumes) and some money. I plan to use some of the money to get a new CD player, since the one I have to listen to audio CDs in the bedroom at bed time isn't working so well any more. In its defence though, it's about 12 or 13 years old, and has been used almost every day in that time. So it's done well. Time to retire it though, since it keeps needing several attempts to get it to accept a CD, and the speakers are going funny, so the sound quality is now a bit iffy.

By the way, I'd just like to say, "Thank you," to everyone who sent cards and/or presents, or who wished us a Blessed Solstice, Merry Christmas, or Happy New Year (whether online or in person).

As you can see, we had a really nice time... It was a lovely way to spend the holidays.

I didn't get my snow, but I did get some fireworks, since someone was doing a bit of a display somewhere nearby on the evening of Christmas Day, which we could easily see and hear from our place, and we'd had some the Saturday before too. I wish there had been snow as well, but you can't have everything, right? Anyway, here's a clip of the Christmas Day fireworks. I shared one last week, but here's a better one:







We didn't do anything for New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. We almost never do. We heard lots of fireworks New Year's Eve though, and you'll be glad it was earlier in the evening we got a clip to share withyou, because even I found the explosion of fireworks at midnight a bit much. I swear everyone who had been doing fireworks earlier in the evening kept their biggest and best firework, had it ready for midnight, and ended up setting it off at the exact moment everyone else did. It really was rather loud. Anyway, here's the short clip we did earlier in the evening:







So, that's how I spent my holidays... How did you spend yours?

Monday, January 07, 2019

#MondayMotivation, #Inspiration, And #Wisdom - #Quotes For January 7th 2019

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.
~Fred Rogers

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
~Alan Watts

Do not wait: the time will never be 'just right'.
~Napoleon Hill

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
~Milton Berle

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.
~Mark Twain

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
~Alan Kay

Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home... it's your responsibility to love it, or change it.
~Chuck Palahniuk

Friday, January 04, 2019

#FurkidFriday: A Very #Degu And #Chinchilla #Christmas 2018

Hi everyone. This is Joshua the degu.

The Lilie dog says she heard Santa Paws, but we didn't see or hear him. Either way, Santa Paws brought me and my chinchilla sisters, Mollie and Maizie, some great stuff. Look at it all:


Some of what you see in those pictures there was in our stocking, the rest was among what the Mummy human says are the things that would have gone under the tree, only we just had the little wooden tabletop tree, so they couldn't fit under it. They were on the table instead, which is probably a good thing, because otherwise the little white Lilie dog would have gotten in to them. She gets in to everything.

Anyway, those little trees are wooden toys for us to gnaw on, and the sprouts are too. The other things are giant hay biscuits, and dandelion roots. There's also a box of raisins. Oh, and there was a small package of oatmeal just for us as well, but the Mummy human gave it to us before the Daddy human could get it included in the photo. We don't care though, because we enjoyed eating it, which is what matters most. I'm sure you'll agree.

By the way, here's a photo of me, which was taken on Christmas day, beside some of my presents:


Also, here's one of my chinchilla sisters. Well, you can see Maizie anyhow, but Mollie didn't feel like having the flashy thing take her photo, so wouldn't stick her head out when it was pointed at their cage. She is there, nibbling on the giant hay biscuit with Maizie, but you can't see her. Anyway, here's the photo:


The Daddy human did try to get a shot where you could see Mollie properly, but she wasn't willing to co-operate.

So, that was Christmas for me, Mollie, and Maizie. We're already looking forward to next time Santa Paws comes!

Squeak soon,
Joshua

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Tori's December 2018 #Book #Reviews - #AmReading

Let's be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.
~Lena Dunham

If you go by my 2018 blogging schedule, I'm not due to do this post yet, since book reviews are supposed to go up on the first Sunday of the month. However, if you go by my 2019 blogging schedule, there are no Sunday posts, my book review post is due today, and I'm past due updating you on what I've been reading. What to do?

What I'm going to do is update you on what I read in December this week, and start doing my weekly review posts from next week. Well, OK, next week's will have an extra two days in it. But whatever. I've also got some book related quotes I want to share, so I'm dotting them throughout this post too, just because I can.

So, let's take a look at what I read in December, shall we?

I can feel infinitely alive curled up on the sofa reading a book.
~Benedict Cumberbatch

As with the previous posts like this one, if you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question.

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
~Stephen King

Don't forget: the format I've reviewed may not be the format I read. Also, please remember that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, so you should always check if a book is suitable for the intended reader, especially when children are involved. Sometimes reading the book's description on its Goodreads page will be enough for this, but other times you may need to check elsewhere to figure out the genre and/or recommended reading level.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
~C.S. Lewis

OK... On to the reviews!

Lord Valentine's Castle (Lord Valentine, #1)Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I originally added this to the list of books I want to read at the recommendation of a friend who thought I'd enjoy it. He thought right. This was a fantastic read. The worldbuilding is amazing, the characters are wonderful, and the plot is excellent. I'm glad I read it, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

While the Bombs FellWhile the Bombs Fell by Robbie Cheadle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a charming book, which gives great insight in to what life was like for some growing up during WWII. The recipes at the end were a nice addition too.

Star-Born Mage (The Godstar Chronicles, #1)Star-Born Mage by David Estes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
David Estes has done it again! This book was totally awesome! The worldbuilding - or, more accurately, universebuilding - is fantastic, the characters are well-rounded and interesting, and the plot moves at a nice pace. This story will grab you from page one, and hold you captive until the end, while taking you on an emotional rollercoaster, and filling your mind with amazing descriptions that will have you feeling as if you're right there with the characters.

A (Hygge) Christmas Carol (annotated): Being a look at Dickens' most famous Christmas Story ever, through the eyes of a hygge-lover and Christmas ObsessiveA (Hygge) Christmas Carol (annotated): Being a look at Dickens' most famous Christmas Story ever, through the eyes of a hygge-lover and Christmas Obsessive by Jo Kneale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you're a fan of the story of "A Christmas Carol" and also like the idea of embracing the concept of hygge, you should read this book for sure. It gives you an excuse to read the story again (not that you really need one) while at the same time using the story to illustrate what the concept of hygge really means. I love the way it's organized, so you can read part of the story uninterrupted, and then look back on it with hygge in mind. I also agree with Jo's observations on the story, and how it relates to the concept of hygge.

Death of a Dapper Snowman (Stormy Day Mystery #1)Death of a Dapper Snowman by Angela Pepper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a nice little holiday mystery. It was a bit of a slow starter, but got more interesting afterwards. If you like mysteries set in small towns, and enjoy having humour injected in to those mysteries, you'll probably enjoy this book.

The Snowman: Inspired by the original story by Raymond BriggsThe Snowman: Inspired by the original story by Raymond Briggs by Michael Morpurgo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Loved it! I remember watching "The Snowman" on TV when I was young. I probably read the original book too, but I'm not sure. Either way, I loved the short film, and loved this book based on it too.

The Snowman and the SnowdogThe Snowman and the Snowdog by Raymond Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was cute, and I loved it! Saw this when it was aired on TV a couple of Christmases ago. Loved the little movie, and loved the book version too.

Enid Blyton's Christmas Stories (Bumper Short Story Collections)Enid Blyton's Christmas Stories by Enid Blyton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A delightful read for the holidays, which is both educational and entertaining.

Christmas Stories: Christmas Stories for Kids and Christmas JokesChristmas Stories: Christmas Stories for Kids and Christmas Jokes by Uncle Amon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The stories were cute, the activities were interesting (but nothing you couldn't have easily come up with on your own) and the jokes are the kind you find in Christmas crackers. It was a nice book, but nothing special.

The Christmas HirelingsThe Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a sweet story. I wasn't sure how I felt about it for the first couple of chapters, but once little Mopet appeared, my enjoyment of it increased so much that I ended up staying up past my usual bed time to finish the book. The ending was a little predictable, but told so well I felt I had to continue until I learned exactly how it came about. I only hesitate to give it the full five stars because of the slow start.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas (Christmas Series, #2)The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A captivating read, which combines the reality of history with the magic of Father Christmas.

Father Christmas and Me (Christmas Series, #3)Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a pretty good read. Not my favourite of the series, partially because I didn't enjoy the narration, but also because I sort of felt like things were dragged on a bit longer than they needed to be for a while in the middle. Still, this was a really enjoyable read over all, and a nice addition to this series.

A Steampunk Christmas CarolA Steampunk Christmas Carol by Stephen Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I thought this was an interesting idea for a re-telling of this tale, and there were parts of the altered story I really enjoyed; the author was very creative in the use of alternative terms for things. However, there were places where the changes made were neglected in favour of the original text, so that I sometimes felt like I was trying to read the original and a steampunk version at the same time. Also, the changes made near the end made the ending less satisfying than it otherwise would have been, since name-dropping by certain characters revealed things before the proper time, defeating the purpose of the scene that followed. So, a good read, with the potential to be a great one, but not quite as enjoyable as it might have been.

The Cricket on the HearthThe Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a pretty good and heartwarming story, though I wouldn't have classed it as a Christmas story myself.

The ChimesThe Chimes by Charles Dickens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A reasonably good read, though not nearly as good as "A Christmas Carol" in my opinion, and certainly not one that's going to make you feel merry and bright.

Pies and HarmonyPies and Harmony by Emma Laybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a beautiful and touching story, which I highly recommend; a perfect holiday read.

Cold Cuthbert's JourneyCold Cuthbert's Journey by Emma Laybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A cute little story, perfect for fans of "The Snowman" as well as anyone looking for a sweet holiday read.

Horace's Christmas SleighHorace's Christmas Sleigh by Emma Laybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a fun and entertaining story, which makes for a delightful holiday read.

Christmas MagicChristmas Magic by Alexandra Moody
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you enjoy darker holiday reads, you might enjoy this book. I did have a slight issue with how casually the main character uses her magic even during the stage where she's supposed to be trying to hide that she had it. Plus, there are a few places where another round of editing would be a good idea. But I mostly thought it was a pretty good read, and enjoyed it enough that I was glad to be able to pick up book two and continue reading right away.

Christmas Chaos (Christmas Magic Book 2)Christmas Chaos by Alexandra Moody
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a great read. Better than the first book, in my opinion. I only kept putting it down because I had to do other things, otherwise I could have easily read it in one sitting.

Christmas Curse (Christmas Magic Book 3)Christmas Curse by Alexandra Moody
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This would be a 4.5 star read for me, so I'm rounding up. Anyway, it's a great ending to the series, and an enjoyable read in its own right, which is only spoiled by needing a little more editing in places. It's most certainly worth the read though, despite those issues.


The Christmas PennyThe Christmas Penny by Maxwell Grantly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A lovely story. I saw the "surprise" near the end coming, since comments made beforehand had already revealed it, but I enjoyed the story, and especially loved the very end.

Emily's Magical ChristmasEmily's Magical Christmas by Kevin Taggart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a sweet story. Although, it was slightly spoiled for me by the age of the main character. An 18 month old isn’t going to understand about Christmas and Santa; if an 18 month old is excited when you’re mentioning Santa, and repeating words like “Santa” and “toys” a lot, it’s because the people around her are acting excited about it, and she’s heard those words repeated a lot. Now, if she was a year or two older...

Bubba Tails: From the Puppy Nursery at the Seeing Eye (Tales from King Campbell Book 1)Bubba Tails: From the Puppy Nursery at the Seeing Eye by Patty L. Fletcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a beautiful story! It's well told, and is a fun way to teach children - and adults too - about guide dogs, and the wonderful work they do.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

#WriterWednesday: Looking Back At 2018, And Ahead To 2019 - The #Writing Edition

Writing is a miserable, awful business. Stay with it. It is better than anything in the world.
~Ann Patchett

I told you in yesterday's post how last year was for me in general, and what my goals for 2019 are in most areas of my life. But now it's time to take a look back at how 2018 was for me as an author, and what writerly goals I have for 2019.

Despite the health issues, and everything else I ended up dealing with, 2018 actually wasn't too bad of a year for me as an author, though it could have been better. I didn't do everything I'd planned to, but did a lot of it, and even did a couple of things I hadn't planned to. I think I did OK overall.

You can read full details of my writing goals for 2018 here, but here's the short version of what my writing goals were:

*Continue audiobook production of my backlist.
*Finish and publish that pirate themed adventure story.
*Get my new pet themed poetry collection published.
*Update my website and social media profiles so they mention audiobooks too.
*Change the paperback links on my Smashwords book pages so it lists the links for Amazon instead.
*Just write, and enjoy the process.

So, how did I do?

*I did continue audiobook production, though I didn't get all my backlist available in audio like I'd hoped to. I now have almost all my backllist available in audio though, despite production delays, and the need to dissolve the contracts for some of my books. Those not yet produced are expected to become available in early 2019... I hope.
*I didn't get my pirate themed adventure story finished and published, because real life got in the way. I probably could have squeezed in some writing time some days that I didn't, but I was already juggling so much that I let my writing take a back seat, because I just couldn't do it all. So I haven't made as much progress on the story as I'd have liked. There's progress, but not as much as I'd have liked, and it's nowhere near being ready for publication yet.
*Both the eBook and paperback versions of my new pet themed poetry collection - entitled "Puppy Poems And Rodent Rhymes" - were published in March. The audio version is hopefully coming soon.
*My social media profiles were updated back in January. I added mention of audio books, and took the opportunity to do a slight rewrite on my profile while I was at it. It took longer for the website to be done - and there are a few updates yet to happen on it - but I did send the updates to the person responsible for doing them in January. It's not my fault if he didn't get to hem.
*I change the paperback links on my Smashwords book pages back in January. Thankfully, I didn't have to change them again when CreateSpace merged with KDP during the second half of this year.
*Writing time... Yeah... I really didn't do well with that. During the first couple of months, I didn't get even close to enough writing time for my liking. So many other things were going on, including the completion of many of the tasks on this list. Then I was dealing with medical issues, and spent several months either in hospital, or at home feeling unwell, so let my writing take a back seat in order to achieve the other million things I was juggling. During the last couple of months I was feeling a lot better, but had a bunch of things I wanted to finish before the end of the year, so continued to let my writing take a back seat. So, yeah... There wasn't as much time to just write as I'd planned, or would have liked. I did enjoy what writing time I did get though... Does that count?

As it turned out, I also did a couple of things not on my list:

*Added links to Audible on my books' Smashwords pages, since Smashwords made the option to list where your books are for sale in audio available in June, so I figured I'd make use of it.
*Wrote a story about our Westie girl, Lilie, which was published in August. The story - which is called "Where's Noodles?" - is already available as an eBook, paperback, and audio book.
*Made Kindle versions of my books available. So, now those of you with Kindles can buy your eBooks directly from Amazon, if you want to. This does not make any difference to the versions already available from other eBook retailers, such as Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, etc. Also, Kindle friendly versions of all my books are still - and will continue to be made - available to purchase via Smashwords too.

Like I said, it wasn't too bad of a year, even though I didn't complete all the goals I set myself. I achieved a lot, including some things I hadn't planned, even with everything going on in my life. So I'm not complaining, and am considering it a reasonably good year.

Still, I'm hoping for a better 2019. In particular, I'm crossing my fingers for a year with more writing time in it, since I have a lot of story ideas begging for my attention, and I want to be able to share my animal stories, fairy tales, etc, with you.

So, what are my goals for 2019?

  1. Finish writing, and then publish, the adventure story. I mean it this time.
  2. Finish getting the last of my backlist available as audio books.
  3. Write and publish at least one other story.
  4. Write more poems towards my next poetry collection.

I've got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.
~Louisa May Alcott

Of course, my upcoming surgery will put a bit of a spanner in the works, especially considering I don't have a laptop at the moment, can't exactly be carrying something as heavy as the brailler around immediately after surgery, don't get on with the document writing thingy on my Kindle, and find it tricky to do more than a very short piece of writing with my phone. This means that writing while I'm in hospital, and immediately afterwards, isn't really going to be an option. At least, no more than a few brief scribbles. But afterwards... When I'm home, and have had a bit of recovery time... I hope, will involve plenty of writing. I'll also be trying to get some writing time in before I go in for surgery.

Oh, by the way... There's still time to register for STORYSTORM 2019, in case you want to do that. Registration closes on January 7th.

Anyway, how's your writing going? Did you have any writing goals in 2018? If yes, how did you do with them? Did you meet your 2018 writing goals? If not, it's OK. Yes, it really is. After all, there is a difference between failure and not meeting your writing goals. No matter how well you did, let me know in the comments, so I can help you look back on all you've accomplished!

This is the start of a whole new year, and another chance to start fresh with a whole new set of goals. Speaking of which, are you making any goals for 2019? If so, what are they? I'd love for you to tell me in the comments. Whatever they are, good luck, and remember these 12 things.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Looking Back At 2018, And Ahead To 2019

Today might not be so good. But tomorrow, you got another chance to get it right.
~David Baldacci

Happy New Year!








2018 didn't go quite as planned for me. Most of the year was taken up with medical issues, and then there was the whole preparing to move thing, which then didn't happen, so we went through unpacking again (after having only finished unpacking in the first place as we went in to 2018). Not to mention losing my Grandad at the start of the year - not that I was close to him, but still... He was my Grandad (the only one I've ever known, since I never knew my Dad's Dad) and people dying is sad even if they aren't people you're close to - and almost losing a couple of other family members and friends to health issues that still plague them. Add to that the stressful situation with nasty neighbour that prompted the now aborted moving plans to be kicked off, and the extra stress I put on myself by still being determined to do so much... Yeah... Not my best year. Could have been worse, I suppose. I have had worse years. Plus, there were some good points, like making a few new friends, discovering subscription boxes, signs of improved health to come, and finally seeing an end to the situation we'd been dealing with for some time with nasty neighbour.

Still, though 2018 wasn't actually as bad of a year as it might have been, and plenty of people had worse years than I did, I find I'm more than ready to move on to 2019 at this point, thank you very much! I'm actually so eager to do so that I've had to keep stopping myself from writing "2019" instead of "2018" when writing the date since about November. So... Yeah...

With that in mind, let's take a quick look at what my goals were for 2018, and how I did with them. Then I can tell you all about my goals for 2019. So, you can read the post with full details about my 2018 goals if you like, but here's the short version of what they were:

2018 Reading Goals:
*Read at least 150 books.
*Do the 2018 A-Z title reading challenge.

2018 Blogging Goals:
*Continue blogging on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, using hashtags when appropriate, and using Tuesdays when extra posting slots are needed.
*Start blogging more about other topics besides books and writing. I even had some monthly features planned. See the post linked to above for full details of the blogging schedule I planned to work with during 2018.

2018 Houshold/Personal Goals:
*Finish organizing the things on the shelves.
*Arrange to finally get the shower rail and curtain put up.
*Get back in the habit of meditating daily again.
*Actually remember that it's OK to take time off from working on the computer sometimes, and have a day off at least once a week.
*Teach Lilie the difference between what she's allowed to chew, and what she isn't.

So, how did I do?

Reading:
I finished the A-Z reading challenge in early August. If you'd like to see exactly what I read for the challenge this year - either because you missed seeing my post when it went up back in August, or because you don't remember - read my post about it here.

I didn't think I'd manage to complete my Goodreads reading goal, but I actually did, thanks to some short holiday reads. I ended up reading 153 books in 2018 - three more books than my goal was set to. You can see my year in books here.

Blogging:
Despite everything, I managed to do a pretty good job with my blogging goals. Although, I didn't properly do some of the monthly features I was going to do (most notably the movie and TV show reviews post). However, since the point of the monthly features was to have me talking about the other things going on in my life outside of my reading and writing, and I did do that, I'm proud of me for doing as well as I did with my blogging goals, and calling it a success. Feel free to disagree, but I personally feel I did well with my blogging goals, especially given what I was dealing with during most of the year. I mean, I didn't miss any posting slots, and even had to use several Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with the odd Saturday. Although, my determination to achieve this is part of the above mentioned extra stress I put on myself, so that part of it isn't such a good thing. Still, I did it.

Household/Personal:
At first the household goals got ignored because of the eventually aborted moving plans. Then it was too late in the year to make any real progress, though we did try. Some things are more organized, while others are less so, since they're back to being in boxes until we get more shelves, and the shower rail is still waiting to go up.

The personal goals - which were basically my attempts at self care - sort of got thrown out of the window in my efforts to do everything else I wanted or needed to while jumping through hoops to get my medical issues sorted out (not literally, of course, though I'm sure the gynecologists would have liked me to get that much exercise). I tried to salvage the situation towards the end of the year, but didn't make as much progress as I'd have liked.

Lilie's not quite so bad about chewing things though, so that's something, I guess. Mind you, there's still room for improvement in that area, since she's still not entirely out of the habit.

To be honest, I feel the household and personal goals were something I totally failed at, because I can't honestly say I completely checked any of them off, and I very obviously failed to achieve the ones that were entirely under my control.

So, that's how I did with my 2018 goals. I didn't do as well as I'd have liked, but never mind. I did OK, considering everything that was going on. Anyway, as I mentioned above, I'm eager to move on to 2019, so let's take a look at what my goals for 2019 are, shall we?

This new day is too dear,with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

2019 Reading Goals:
I want to read at least 104 books in 2019. That's two books a week. I'd like to read more than that - especially given the length of my ever-growing "want to read" list - and most likely will end up doing so, because it's me. But 104 is the number I'm setting my Goodreads challenge for this year, and I'll be happy if I just read that many books. I just want to focus on relaxing and enjoying my reading time, not worrying quite so much about numbers. That's why I'm setting my Goodreads reading challenge to a number that's pretty low for me, despite having read more than that in 2018.

I'll also be doing the A-Z challenge one of the Goodreads groups I'm a member of likes to do every year. In fact, this year there are two versions of it, one for titles and one for authors, and I'm planning to do both. I'm going to try to anyhow.

I might decide to participate in some of the other group challenges on Goodreads too. But I'm not setting it as an actual goal, especially since I don't know at this point what other challenges might happen on the groups. It's just something I'll do if I decide I want to when sign-ups happen.

2019 Watching Goals:
This is a new catagory for me, but I have stacks of DVDs I want to watch, along with loads more on my list of ones I want copies of, which I'll naturally also want to watch. So I'm setting a goal for those this year too. My goal is to watch at least 52 DVDs in 2019. That's one a week. More would be great, but I'll be happy if I can say for sure I watched 52 DVDs.

To be clear, that's disks. So, for example, if a season of a TV series is six disks (like most of NCIS is) watching a whole season counts as watching six DVDs. So, by "a DVD" I mean one movie, or one disk of a season of a TV series.

I'll have to make sure to keep track of how many I watch myself though, since I'm not on a movie/TV series version of Goodreads. Does one of those even exist? It wouldn't surprise me if it does...

2019 Blogging Goals:
I'm starting a new blogging schedule as from January 2019. I've actually spent quite a lot of time thinking about my new blogging schedule. I considered leaving things as they were. I weighed the pros and cons of either increasing or decreasing my post frequency. Etc, etc, etc. Actually, being honest, I went back and forth with a decision on this several times, and I probably spent more time thinking about it than I really needed to, because that's something I do a lot. But there you go. In the end, I decided to go with a blogging schedule that will have me blogging five days a week. I'll be starting the following blogging schedule as from January 2019:

  • Monday: motivational and inspirational quotes, and words of wisdom. The posting of quotes is a feature I decided to keep going with, and do every week, since it seems popular among my readers/followers. Plus, seeing all those quotes is a great way to start the week, and collecting them is kinda fun too.
  • Tuesday: anything goes. Whatever's been happening in my life, weather reports, craft project updates, and any other random thing I want to share. Basically, anything that doesn't fit nicely in to one of the other days, so most weeks this will likely end up being a weekly version of the "random ramblings" or "this and that" type posts I sometimes do.
  • Wednesday: #WriterWednesday posts, which will contain writing links I consider worth sharing, any writing related news or updates I have that I can share with you from my week, book announcements for either myself or other authors I'm spotlighting, quotes about writing, or some combination of these things.
  • Thursday: what I've read or been watching in the past week, along with reviews for all new to me books, movies, and TV shows.
  • Friday: my usual #FurkidFriday posts; anything the furries have to share.

I'll continue scheduling the posts to go up ahead of time, though I'm changing the time from 10:00am UK time to 9:00am UK time. Still, since they'll be scheduled ahead of time, there will be a cut-off time for new things to be added, or times they wait until the following week because I didn't get a chance to add them to the post, like is already the case with the links in my #WriterWednesday posts. For example, if I finish a book or watch a movie on a Wednesday, I probably won't get the review up for it that week. In fact, you can almost guarantee I won't.

I did consider combining the posts for Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I was going to do them as one long post on a Monday. But, in the end, I decided to keep them as individual posts. It makes tagging them easier. Plus, though there are exceptions to this rule, most people seem to prefer several shorter posts to one long one these days. I've also had some comments made directly to me from followers of my blog about how people like things being in individual posts, and how they were glad when I started doing that. So, there you go.

This new schedule officially starts today. However, I'll be setting up posts for around the time I'm going in to hospital, so during that time they won't be exactly as it says on the tin, so to speak. I'll be trying to stick to the set themes for the days when setting things up though. I even have a fun feature planned for the Fridays, which originally started as an idea I had with an author friend, and turned in to a sort of mini post series that I hope you'll enjoy.

2019 Personal Goals:
My personal goal involves the embracing of Hygge, while practicing better self care, as I explain in this post. This is something I've already started trying to achieve, but which I'm still trying to figure out. I'm trying different things, to see what works best for me, and what I do and don't want to include in my life on a regular basis, if you know what I mean. I want to look after my health better. Not diet, or anything like that. But be the best me I can. A quote I spotted on Twitter last night sums it up perfectly:

As the New Year rolls in, a reminder: Diet culture and diet resolutions normalize eating disorders. It’s possible to center your health without weight loss goals. Let 2019 be the year that you decide that you aren’t too much or too little. You’re just right.
~Julie Murphy

Anyway, there's also my surgery finally coming up early this year. But, though having that done is something I want to have happen, I'm not putting it as an actual goal for the year. Still, I'll be glad once it's done. Also, having it done will make it easier for me to focus on my actual personal goal, especially once I've had my recovery time afterwards.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
~J.R.R. Tolkien

So, in short, I have five goals for 2019, which are as follows:

  1. Read at least 104 books.
  2. Do both versions of the A-Z reading challenge.
  3. Watch at least 52 DVDs.
  4. Blog five times a week.
  5. Embrace hygge, and practice better self-care.

Between the things I have planned, and the long-awaited surgery finally coming up, 2019 looks like it's going to get off to a great start for me. I hope you can say the same!

Tomorrow we'll talk about the writing side of things.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear how you did with your goals for 2018, if you had any. So tell me all about it in the comments. Or, just tell me how 2018 was for you. Was it a good year? A bad one? Somewhere in the middle? Either way, I'd love to know. Also, do you have any goals or resolutions for 2019? If so, what are they? I'd love to know about those as well, so tell me about them in the comments section of this post too.

Oh, and here's some advice on how to make the most of your goals, in case you could use some.