State of Mind

I know. I know. You were expecting a book review. I promise, that will post sometime today. Consider this… a bonus.

I’m in atypically high spirits right now. For no apparent reason. Music pounds through the house via my favorite Christmas present: a Sony Bluetooth speaker from the In-Laws. It was gifted as a “both of us” present, but come on. I’m the music freak in this house. I’m the one that screams song lyrics at the top of my lungs until 3 AM. I’m the one that holds impromptu dance parties of one at the drop of a hat.

That speaker is mine.

And right now it is shuffling through my music with style. Currently, “Arabella” by Arctic Monkeys, which has my blood pumping.

I wanted to talk about my work space. This is something that is very important to me, and I know has come up on multiple posts. Usually I talk about the tone and atmosphere of whatever coffee shop (read: Starbucks) I’ve landed in for the day. But, I don’t work for the coffee giant any more, and don’t really go there unless I’m giving myself a treat of Iced Coffee.

And I knodeskw I’ve shown photos of my work space as it comes together, but today is the first day that it feels like the space is mine. Today I sat down in my $20 Wal-Mart office chair and said, “no more.” That chair is awful and impossible to sit comfortably in for any length of time. Plus it rolls, and I’m inevitably waging war with staying in place. Usually I just lilt to the side a bit and end up facing the desk at an angle.

Generally irritating and distracting stuff. No way to write a book.

So, I said, “no more”, slid the chair to a corner of the room, and retrieved one of the extra dining chairs. Our dining table can seat four to six, depending on the leaf, but we generally keep it as a four-seater.

And let me just say that this chair has made all the difference.

I sat at my desk, and though my ass slid on the slick wood of the chair (a cushion will solve that) my back found the rest and it was perfect. I’m here, and I’m ready. And it finally feels like mine.

I’ve got all my aqua accents, from the desk lamp, to the simple cardboard organizer, to the ceramic moon I painted on mine and Trevor’s first anniversary, to a large, heart-shaped paperweight my work wife brought back for me from her hometown. Actually, even the plate my tiny little potted cactus sits on is aqua. I have a theme. I have a fgarrus-vakarianeeling the chair cushion will match.

Beneath the white board, where I track all my weekly and yearly goals as well as reading progress, Garrus keeps a close watch over everything, Black Widow at the ready should shenanigans prevail. I have a small, thrift shop tea cup that is a souvenir from my best friend’s bridal shower. And I have a clay Hermione, intended to decorate a wineglass stem, hanging from the neck of the lamp, a gift from that same best friend on her wedding day.

I’m a sentimental person. It’s true. And there’s no better place to surround myself with all these good vibes and memories than my work space.

My bookshelf is also a testament to memories and friends. Odd trinkets and collectibles from my life interrupt the rows of books, yet again giving me a wonderful warm feeling of belonging. That shelf is unarguably mine.bookshelf

And the walls! I finally have art on the walls. Over the sofa is a print from a local artist. I don’t know what the actual inspiration was, but the content reminds me of The Way of Kings, and I bought it on sight. I’ve had that painting for the better part of three years, waiting for an office to hang it in. Across from that, on either said of the window are framed prints of the maps from the book Elantris. One large print on the left, and two small one on the right. These were a gift from Trevor for my birthday, and the frames were purchased with a gift card from a good friend, also for my birthday.

Add the dog lounging on the sofa, and everything is just… right.simon

I mean, there are things I still want to add. An arched lamp over the sofa, a small side table to allow for lunches/snacks and drinks when I’m reading or taking a break, and a real rug (as opposed to the purple yoga mat currently spread across the floor). I want a new desk, which the Husband says he can custom make one for the space, but that project is far down on the list of home improvements.

And that’s fine, because having this space at all is so relieving. So freeing. No more packing up all my work to tote it to Starbucks. No more awkward people interactions when I just want to write. No more fielding the ever present question, “school?” when people see the laptop. Then I have to say, “no, writing” and then they either want to talk about it (which they don’t really) or they cast a look that says, “you’re one of those“.

We all know that stereotype of the starving writer sitting at Starbucks all day, writing and taking up a good seat, but only buying a brewed coffee. Yes, it’s irritating, especially since I would spend WAY more than $2.25 while I was there, and that was with a discount! But, there’s also a lot of truth in it. In my five years with the company, I met my fair share of them.

I’m glad I can park myself at home and no longer contribute to it. This is something I’ve wanted since I knew writing was all I really wanted to do. Since Trevor and I moved to Oregon and I finally committed myself to writing novels instead of short fiction. Yeah, there were some breaks in between, long pauses where the distance made me doubt my own discipline and ability. But, every step we took led us to buying a house, and I was very vocal that any house we considered must have a separate room for my work.

Now, I was willing to share that space with a guest bed, if needed. I even intended that any sofa I purchased for this room be a sleeper sofa. But, news flash, I’m cheap. I hate spending money and sleeper sofas are expensive. And when I saw the purple settee on sale, I immediately knew it was the right one for the room.

So, future guests of the Harlow Homestead, sorry, not sorry. Writing won out. It’s an air mattress or the (future) living room sectional for you.

So, though it is just the first phase and there are many improvements and upgrades to be made in the coming years, I love this room. This space that is so thoroughly and completely mine. The place where I’ve written more words in the last three months than I have in the past two years. I am so pleased, enchanted, and grateful that you have come into my life.

Now, let’s get to work!



Goals Summary Wk of 9/19


I’m sorry about the tardiness of this post. It should have happened on Monday, instead here we are, late Wednesday. But, let’s dig into it.

So… goals for last week weren’t terrible, and yet I achieved none of them.

  • Write A Monster Calls book review
  • 2 blog posts
  • Golden Son book review
  • Finish chapter 7 of Jordinn’s Story

Did literally none of those things.

Buuut…. My bookshelf is complete!bookshelf 1.jpg

After weeks and weeks of begging and pleading, and plenty of procrastination on both our parts, the shelf is installed, set, and loaded. What took so long was the sanding. Each board had to be sanded three times, top and bottom, in order for the stain to adhere properly, and for the boards to be the right texture for the polyurethane. That’s two+ hours of sanding for each board. Times five. 10-12 hours, just sanding.bookshelf 2.jpg

Then, each board needed to have five pocket holes, and four 1 1/8″ circles drilled into them. Then be wiped down with mineral spirits so that there wouldn’t be any debris or sawdust ruining the finish. Only then could we coat with stain, waiting at least an hour before we flipped the boards and stained the other side.

Trevor was a champ. He drilled all the pocket holes (for securing the boards to the studs) and all the circular holes for the pipes in one day. We also completed the staining process that same day. It was intense.

bookshelf 3.jpg
Then came the poly, which was my nemesis. Not because it was complicated or anything, but because it has to set for three days before you can subject the surface to normal use. AKA, I had to wait three days beyond installation just to put my books on the shelf! The agony!bookshelf-6

But, tonight was the night, and everything is in place. There’s have more room than I anticipated, which is nice. I’ve currently filled any gaping spots with knickknacks and non-fiction books. These things will be pulled in favor of new books as time goes on. For now they’re just pretty.

And it’s all I can think about. I just keep looking at them. Admiring the collection that has finally come home. Unpacking these books, touching them all again, and finally giving them the home I’ve dreamt of for months has been so… relaxing. It felt like stress cleaning. Like dusting cobwebs off my very soul.

I finally feel like I live here. Like my writing room isn’t just an over-glorified storage with a desk shoved in the corner. Now I can envision a daybed, with a rug and a small coffee table, artwork over it. A tall lamp in one corner by the bookcase. Maybe some auxiliary shelves surrounding the window across from that. All in good time. For now I’m just ecstatic to be looking at this every time I spin in my chair:bookshelf-8

But, enough about that, for now. Let’s talk about this week’s goals. Or at least, what ever’s left of them.

  • Write two blog posts
  • A Monster Calls book review
  • Golden Son book review
  • Morning Star book review
  • Finish chapter 7 of Jordinn’s Story

So basically, last week’s goal, but with a bonus book review. We’ll see if I finish Morning Star in time. If I do, the book review will probably be out late Saturday night or relatively early Sunday morning.

Also, it’s time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo. I’ve got a month to decide if I’m going to participate. Seeing as I’ve written a little over a thousand words in three weeks, it seems unlikely I’d win this year, but it’d be a really wonderful way to force myself back into the habit of writing. Plus, I haven’t participated in NaNo since 2011. I miss it.

So, that’s on the horizon. I have a million tiny things lurking around the house. Mostly just organizational things that are begging for my attention as we get used to our new space. I never thought it would take this long to feel settled. But it does. I’m still learning about this house, and discovering what the best uses for certain spaces are. It’s exhausting. And wonderful.

Anyway, you should see a bit from me in the next few days as I make a mad dash to make up for this past week. Thanks, as usual, for your patience Blogland. I appreciate you all immensely.

Talk at you soon,



Goal Summary wk. 9/5

All right, Blogland.

Time to talk about goals. This week is another I’m penciling in as a success.Although Jordinn’s Story was neglected this week, everything else was accomplished.

  • Coraline Book Review
  • Two Blog Posts
  • Edits on The Portrait of Sterling Madison

Ok… three bullet points doesn’t seem that impressive, but not included here is the reformat and reprinting of every story I’ve ever finished, so that they can be compiled in one giant binder. That took some time, and it was worth the effort. Getting everything streamlined into Manuscript Format feels damn good.

So, this week, I’ve got four bullet points.

  • The Obelisk Gate Book Review
  • Two Blog posts
  • Rewrite of The Portrait of Sterling Madison, aka draft #4
  • Finish chapter 7 of Jordinn’s Story

I’m also confident that I’ll finish Golden Son sometime this week, because it’s proving too good to put down. I’m flying through it. As for The Neverending Story… it’s going to be a while. It’s taking FOREVER. I’m getting rather bored with it, to be honest.

What else?

I haven’t started Over Sea, Under Stone yet, and fully anticipate that it might fall off the list. I just don’t have enough time to listen to hours and hours of audio books like I planned. But, I might still make some progress.

Also, in my limited spare time, I’m reteaching myself piano. We bought an old ’50s Wurlitzer, and though it needs a slight tuning, I’m learning a lot. Songs include tracks from the Mass Effect 3 Soundtrack, Final Fantasy VII, Pride and Prejudice, Kingdom Hearts, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Some of them are far beyond my capabilities, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. How else do you get better?

Anyway, shelves are progressing slowly. We’re still on track for a Sunday install, but it could get pushed back depending on how this week goes. I’ll keep you all posted, including pictures.

Talk at you all soon!