Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

For the girlies first Halloween, they were 5 months old and we opted to not dress them up or take them out.  Last year, we dressed them up and took them to the mall and a couple of friends.

This year was THE year.  The year we were going to turn them loose on the streets of Langdon.

Doodle was a monkey


and Buggie was a Veggie Burger

It took a couple of houses before they really got the hang of it, but once they "got it" nothing was gonna stop them.



Buggie REALLY loved it.  The downside was when she told me she liked going for "walks" as she was running to the next house to beg for candy! Something tells me other walks just warn't going to be the same for her...



We did our crescent and the close at the end of it and the girls got quite the haul out of it. 


Unfortunately, it was a trillion times busier than any other year so a bunch of their candy had to go into our bin to give back out to the kids coming to the house (I think we got close to 100 kids this year - the biggest year we had before that was 40 - so we were understandably under-prepared).  No big deal as we'd prefer the girls to not have so much junk food anyway.

and that, my friends, was our little halloween :)

Dear Food Diary: October 31

Considering today was Halloween, I think I did pretty good with all of the temptations around.   I had a blueberry muffin and coffee for breakfast:


a frozen dinner and some baby carrots for lunch

Leftover pizza after trick or treating
 and now for a snack...

Just kidding.


Kinda.


I solemnly swear I will not gorge myself....

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow!!!!

Holy hannah!  It's suddenly here!  My book is about to get the attention it deserves...

So, what are my goals around NaNo this year?

1) to add and edit necessary content - this is going to be a long slog.  I figure my book will close to double in size by the end of the month

2) To not eat my weight in peppermint patties like I did last year

and how will I ever find the time to write while working, being a mom, finding time to work out, celebrating all of the November birthdays (including my own) and completing the majority of the courses toward a marketing certificate?

Good question.   I think the best plan for fitting this in is going to be getting up early to write in the mornings.  I can probably haul my butt out of bed at 4 to get some writing in.   My lunch hours at work are likely also going to be reserved for writing.   My laptop will be travelling with me A LOT this month.

Evenings will be for my workouts.   The rest will just need to fit in around the edges.

Now - what if I can't do it?  When I did NaNo last year - I was a stay at home mom with super-nappers.   I locked myself away and got the writing done.

I think the most important goal for myself this month will be to do what I can and accept the rest.  I'm not really looking to be a NaNo "winner" this year.  I just want to know that I put in my best effort to do some writing and get my novel into a position where I can start thinking it's publishable.  I'll likely struggle with the balance of it all, but I do have helpers around the house and it is only for one month.

So, wish me luck.  Tomorrow at 4am, I'll be up with my coffee and my laptop.

MOMday: Candy-less Halloween

I can't believe it's already the end of October.  Wow, has this year ever gone by fast!  So happy Halloween to you all.  It's going to be an exciting night :)

Since moving to Langdon almost 5 years ago, we have stopped giving out Candy on Halloween.  No, we aren't the house on our block with the darkened windows.   Yes - we still entertain a stream of ghosts and ghouls at our door.  But instead of handing out candies, we try to get a little creative each year and we give out candy-less treats.

In the months before Halloween, I keep my eyes out for inexpensive little treats that can be fun for kids.  Some years, I have put together little baggies with erasers and balloons in them.  One year, we bought a few boxes of crayons and tossed a couple of colours into the treat bags - the little kids were OVERJOYED about these.  Last year, we stumbled on little card games at Costco and handed these out.  

The parents really seem to appreciate the toys instead of candy.  The little kids are so excited to see toys go in - far more excited than I ever saw them react to candy when we lived in Calgary.  The older kids aren't too thrilled about it (you should have seen the faces on the 16 year olds who got crayons - luckily my house didn't end up decorated with them). Perhaps the best part of adopting a candy-less Halloween is that we don't have any left over candy to ruin our diet with...and the Halloween leftovers are just a good to give away the next year.

A candy-less Halloween doesn't need to be expensive.  Dollar stores are a bonanza for finding great treats.   And as more people are adopting the candy-less approach - there are great options to be found that will fit any budget.  Costco usually has bags of mini tubs of playdoh.  I've found huge packages of balloons and stickers and erasers at Dollarama.  If you keep your eyes open, you can pick up big boxes of Halloween pencils for cheap, cheap, cheap.  This year, I found 10 packs of glow in the dark vampire teeth for $1 at Walmart!   We usually set a budget of $20 for our treats and we usually have leftovers (our house is on the opposite side of the sidewalk so we don't get more than 45 kids ever).  That's really not a bad budget for the holiday and you might find that you were spending significantly more on the years you gave out candy!

If you're worries about older kids targeting you for going candy-less, I recommend picking up the little treat bags to conceal what you're giving to them.   But keep the treats out of the baggies for the little kids because you are instantly rewarded by how much their faces light up when they see what you have for them.

Even if you only try it once - why not give a candy-less Halloween a try.  It's a fun way to change things up a bit...and makes it easy to keep the candy out of the house and away from ruining your diet :)

(and, now, a sneak peek at what the ghouls and goblins will be seeing at our house tonight :)


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dear Food Diary: Oct 30

I didn't do too badly today.  I did have a moment of weakness at Starbucks, though (as you'll soon see)

Breakfast was a greek yogourt and half a bagel with butter and drizzle of honey and my usual coffee
Lunch was a PB&J that my daughter discarded as "yucky" without taking a bite.  Not my first choice,but it definitely wasn't yucky.


Mid-afternoon I got a TALL latte and then caved on the oat fudge bar because it looked so good (wasn't worth the 400+ calories)






And dinner was totally yum.   Veggie Chicken Parmesan with rotini and a butter bun.


Tomorrow is MIL's birthday so we also had cake - I kept my piece small...


and to balance it out a bit - I headed out for a late afternoon run.  The nice days are going to be vanishing soon so it would have been a shame to waste today.  I did 5.15K around town and it felt great.  I had a naggy pain in my ankle for the first K, but once I hit my stride - it went away and I really enjoyed the run...well - I didn't enjoy running into the wind the whole way (it kept changing directions), but I consider that strength training and extra calories burned that my garmin can't account for!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Living Life...

Just saw this quote on Twitter and absolutely love it:

“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.” 
 
~ Jonathan Safran Foer
 
Somedays, I wonder if this is all there is to life.  Then I tend to remember that I am young and plan to live a long, healthy and active life.  There's plenty of time to live the other lives that are meant for me.  Looking forward to the adventures :)

Dear Food Diary: Oct 29

Today, I was at school all day so there weren't really opportunities to snack...though I wasn't really hungry anyway.   I've added a fibre supplement to my diet as of yesterday and it is keeping me pretty full so I am taking more time to think about what I need to shove in my face.

Anyway - here's what today looked like.

Breakfast was half a bagel with peanut butter and a yogourt.  I really don't like gelatin yogourts so I made sure I picked up some greek yogourt after my class so I can have that in the future.


The came a food court lunch - a veggie burger and a small fries...that weren't that small. 


and to cap off my fast food day - pizza for dinner...2 slices of mushroom and pineapple.  Nothing hits the spot quite like a vegetarian hawaiian.


Just one cup of coffee (with breakfast).  I'm going to try to keep it to that, going forward.

and then the breakdown:

I really am trying to be smarter (even if it doesn't look like it).  I was tempted to break into the pantry and steal some of my MILs yummy chocolate candies and I didn't because I told myself it would serve no good purpose in my life.  Then I hit the "finished for the day" button in My Fitness Pal and it told me that if I ate like this every day - I would be 159.5lbs in 5 weeks.  So, I have some incentive to stick to the plan.   Just gotta keep chugging along and I'll reach my ultimate goal by the end of the year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dear Food Diary: Oct 28

Today was MUCH better on the food front. Unfortunately, the lovely chinook arch across the sky had my head screaming in agony and sent me home from work early, but at least I didn't shove my face full of crap all day.

Overslept - so didn't eat until I got to work.  Just coffee in the car:

and then a lovely southwest breakfast bake from Good Earth.  The coffee wasn't even a latte in that cup...just a medium roast with cream and sugar.

On my way home, I grabbed a quick bite at the mall to tide me over.  Just an avocado roll, some inari and  an apple juice.


Picking up Advil at Costco can be a dangerous process, depending what samples are on display.  I made myself promise to only have a sample if it was something I truly loved.   Dammit - they had Lindt Chocolates on the roster... I did, however just have one...


Dinner was simple...a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat and some mushroom soup.

Now I'm done for the day.  Tomorrow should be interesting.  I am in a course all day so will be eating on the go.  Here's hoping the food court food at SAIT is decent...



Countdown...

hmmm - this should be counting down

  • 3 days til NaNoWriMo!
  • 21 days til my birthday
  • 32 days to finish writing/editing The Loracian Stone
  • 57 days to finish my holiday shopping
  • 64 days left in the year (meaning 64 days left to lose around 15-20lbs)


Something tells me the rest of the year is going to be a tay bit busy...

Friday Reads: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

One night, hubby and I, the twinners and my MIL all headed to Indigo to do some browsing.  I tend to just take pictures of the books I want to get so I can buy them through Kobo when I get home.  I wasn't having much luck in my quest for new reads and then I suddenly stumbled on this one in the bargain rack.  I only read the first couple of lines on the cover description:

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

and then I snapped the picture :) As soon as we got home, I bought and downloaded the book.   After finishing Discovery of Witches, I needed something along the same vein and I thought I had found it.

This book took me a long time to read - not because it was particularly lengthy or because I lacked time - I just found it to be a slow slog.  The story was enough to draw me in, though the writing style seemed to vary between extremely simplistic and an attempt at high brow vocabulary.   Still - I enjoyed the story.

Imagine if Harry Potter went to college, discovered sex, booze and drugs and then travelled to Narnia and you might be getting close.  The authors influences are quite clear in the parallels he draws to both Lewis and Rowling.   There were several times when it felt like he may be copying those influences directly, but he always pulled me back with something original before it could become too entrenched in the familiar.  

I did find many passages to be quite awkward and many of the suspense and "shockers" ended up being rather anti-climactic.  Still - I enjoyed the story for what it was.   I didn't feel as though the magic was quite as thoroughly explored as it could be.  In that sense it was definitely more on the Narnia scale.  Grossman still wove a good story and I do look forward to reading the next book - The Magician King to see where he goes with this.

I'd say it's worth reading, if only to help quell a craving for fantasy.   It's not the best that's out there, but it's still very good.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dear Food Diary: Oct 27

Ok...not as good as it could have been...but on the up side, I was being more watchful, knowing I was going to be posting it all here.  Ultimately it was a latte with a friend and a slice of carrot cake that did me in...

I would work out tonight, but I have had a screaming headache all afternoon and need to rest a bit.  I think the working out will need to come next week..for now - it's about the food...

I'll start with myfitnesspal tracking:


and now for the pictures:

Breakfast was a bagel with peanut butter and my coffee

I didn't eat the entire bagel - a quarter of it was stolen by these two bandits:

Then, I ran into Anna the second I got to work and she convinced me we needed lattes.  I should have chosen a tall instead of a venti...but I was cold and wanted a big coffee. Next time I'll choose smaller.


Lunch was at Good Earth - a lovely lentil stew and a slice of their yummy carrot cake (don't judge - it's only 200 cals)

and then Dinner..which was admittedly lame - open faced grilled cheese. 


and I admit...I will be eating the rest of my potato chips in a couple of minutes...getting them out of the house and away from temptation...I don't think there is a full serving left in the bag, though so the calorie count is definitely off there.


There you have it...my reality.  See why I need to do this?   With any hope - I will be able to wrench myself back into a pattern I can be proud of.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans...

So, I sat down this week and mapped out a pretty simple strategy for getting my workouts in this week...Start a Rip:60 rotation and put in some time on the bike.   Run on Sunday (because I have a course on Saturday).

Simple, right?

Then why haven't I been able to do it?  at all?  even once?

Monday - I was so busy all day and exhausted from having been without Hubby all weekend...and he got home that afternoon so I wanted to spend the time with him...workout missed.

Tuesday - Operated on 2 hours of sleep.   Too exhausted to lift own arms.  Went to bed early to try to get caught up on rest.  Workout missed.

Wednesday - well, that's today.  So, I have an opportunity to turn things around.   I got a full night sleep last night (thank you, Doodle) so I'm ahead there.  I am going to try my darndest to get a workout in...any workout...even if it means doing it before I eat dinner so the lure of the sofa won't grab me...

Wish me luck.  I really do want to succeed at my "til the end of the year" goal.   Nobody is going to lose the weight for me...I know it is all on me.  But what normally works for me...isn't working for me at the moment.  My brain is too full of other stuff to even know where to start anymore.

But start, I must.  The kick start was last week and it resulted in my losing 2lbs last week.   I need to keep that rate up til the end of the year to succeed.  

Perhaps my diet is where I need to focus the work.   Make sure I am sticking to the calorie allowance each day and tough love it a bit.  This work-life balance thing is screwing with my workouts, but I can control what goes into my mouth. 

I think I may need to start posting my meals here to keep me accountable.  You guys won't be too mad if I temporarily turn into a vegetarian food blog, will ya?   I'll try to keep it to one meals post a day - I promise...

I might also be posting my scale readings...still talking myself into that one...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The High Functioning Mommy

So tired...Ugh.

Last night, Doodle decided she was hungry for Mickey Mouse pancakes at 12:30am.  Then she needed crackers at 2am.  Then we never went back to sleep.  Luckily Buggie went down at 2:30 and stayed down...but mommy and Doodle are a tay bit tired today.

Have I mentioned how fun two and a half year olds are?  And how much I am LOVING having two of them at the same time?

For the past few weeks, they've actually been sleeping pretty good.   and so have I.  It's been heavenly.  It's like they knew momma had some marathon recovering to get through and they let me have that time.  Apparently, I'm supposed to be healed and capable of functioning on no sleep again.

So now it comes down to becoming a High Functioning Mommy.   It's a delicate balance to be a High Functioning Mommy.  You don't want to have TOO much coffee because then you become Strung Out Mommy.   Too little coffee and you become Loudly Snoring Mommy.  My part time job (you know, the one I go to for 8 hours of the day) is SUPER BUSY right now (and unlikely to change) so I need to find ways to keep myself going and productive.  

But if the big project I am on is a major flop...I'm going to bring it down to the lack of sleep I got the day before I outlined the structure for the entire website.   Doodle has the success or failure of a multi-million dollar project resting on her head right now.

If we both get through the day, we'll next be addressing her sudden desire to sucker punch people in the face...

Ahhh - toddlers.  (Try to guess which one's Doodle)

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Week's Plan

Remember this guy?

My lovely Rip:60 suspension trainer that I bought a few months ago? The one I used all of once all summer?  Yep - that's the one.

Well, tonight I am going to be starting a rotation with him.   He's going to kick my ass and leave me for dead, but my goal is to use him 3 times a week to get myself pointed in the right direction again.  

So, here is my super simple workout schedule for the foreseeable future.

Monday - Rip:60
Tuesday - Bike
Wednesday - Rip:60
Thursday - Bike
Friday - Rip:60
Saturday - Run
Sunday - Off

I am also going to focus on eating better.   Luckily we're almost out of Halloween candy so that should be easier to do now :P  

Last week, I lost 2 lbs so I must be on the right track (regardless of the Halloween candies).  Just have to keep plugging away at it and by the new year, I'll have a new body :)

MOMday: When Daddy's Away

Hubby has been in Toronto since Thursday.  It is the first time he has spent time away from the girls (just him - we went away together to San Fran without them last year) and it has been a real adjustment for us all.  All I can say is thank goodness for my MIL - having an extra set of hands around has made a huge difference in his absence.

This brings up the topic of how to handle that first absence and what we did to make it easier on the girls.

First thing first - we started relating the things he would be doing, like flying in an airplane.  The girls are obsessed with airplanes so we could point out planes on our commutes the week before and tell them that daddy would be flying in a plane to go to Uncle Shelby's wedding.

Then, after dropping hubby at the airport bright and early the day he left - I pulled up a flight tracker on the internet so the girlies could watch where their daddy's plane was throughout the morning.  They liked seeing the little plane on the map move.

Hubby had both his tablet and iPhone with him and had free wifi at the hotel so we used Skype to check in.   If he had've been here in person, he would have been knocked over by them - they kept kissing the screen and laughing when they saw his face.  More than once, I had to move my MacBook further away from them because I feared for the screen!   At the wedding reception, hubby was able to skype us so the girls could see him all dressed up in his tux and see the party going on behind him.

We tried to ease the absence for the girls.  MIL and I kept them super distracted all weekend.  Yesterday - we took them shopping and let them pick out their Halloween costumes and some new clothes for winter.   They liked touching the clothes and deciding what characters should be on their shirts.   I didn't like wrangling them in the Sears bathroom for diaper changes while we waited for the change table (thank goodness for hand sanitizer and my sincerest apologies to the cleaning staff for whatever I may have missed.  Boo for bathrooms that can't accommodate a double stroller). 

That's not to say they didn't miss their daddy.  I think they might have been a bit confused at times because they would run for the door yelling "Daddy! Daddy!".  Or, when we drove home Friday night and they nattered on about how we would see Gramma and daddy when we got there...they didn't entirely get it.  But they sure got excited when I'd bring my laptop into the living room.

All in all, I think we had a successful first try at this whole "daddy goes on a trip" thing.  He doesn't travel often, but there is a possibility of business trips in the near future.  It's good to know that with a support system in place, we were able to thrive.

Now, if only the dogs had done as well without him.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Reads...oops, not this week.

I am currently reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman.  Really liking it.  What Twilight was Discovery of Witches; Harry Potter is to this.  I'm about halfway done - no time to read this week with Hubby heading out of town for a wedding and the rest of us adjusting accordingly.

So, I'll be back with Friday Reads next week.  Maybe I'll even be able to do a two-fer for y'all if I have time to read the sequel too...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Ready to Run

In the final days of my taper, all I could think about was how happy I was it was almost over because I was going to give myself a much needed break from running.  Three weeks, I'd say.  Three weeks and I'd be ready to go back.

But then I ran the marathon.  Then, the soreness faded.   and the itch began...

I was itching to run.

I'd take a few tentative steps - chasing after the twins, jogging to catch up with my hubby, seeing how fast I could get down the stairs.  Little things that only served to feed the itch.

Tonight - at a week and a half since the marathon...I scratched the itch.

It started with a hard day at work.  A mentally and physically tiring day that I just wanted to go away.  When I can't stop ranting - I know it's time for a reset.  When I came home, I barely said Hi to my MIL before I changed and had my sneakers on and was out the door.

Not long and not far.  After the day I had - only a run would cure it.   I'm glad I did.  It didn't hurt near as bad as I was expecting.  I still have healing to do, but it was good to get out and pound the pavement.

So 15 mins and 2.5K later - I'd softened the edge on my day enough that I can let go of it.   And I scratched the itch and proved to myself that I would run again...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Techy Tuesday: Introducing Yarny

As I prepare to entrench myself in NaNoWriMo this year,I am looking for ways to write my book while on the go.   I have Scrivener on my Macbook, but I may not want to always haul my Macbook with me, now that my life is much fuller than it was last year.

Then, I was on the NaNo site and discovered this little gem - Yarny.  It might just be the solution to my problem, but even if it isn't - I want to mention it in case it can help someone else. 

Yarny is a bare-bones, web based novel writing software.   It allows you to break your book down into "snippets" and stores them in your account.  I am actually quite drawn to the simplicity of it.  Scrivener can be kind of mind-boggling in it's depth.   I don't have the time to really learn it inside and out.  Yarny just has a section to organize the people, places and things in your story along one side of the screen and another menu to organize your "snippets" of writing (I see these as chapters) along the other side.

When you fist visit the Yarny site - there are little notes all over the interface to help you learn how to use it.   It's super simple.  Once you click on the screen, these disappear.  When you log in - your books will automatically come up.   You can have multiple titles within your account.


In the centre is a simple word processor.  I really like that, while you are typing, the sidebars go away - helps to keep them from distracting you as you write.  I know that last year, I often turned on full screen mode in Scrivener to remove any outside distractions.  This isn't quite the same, because it is browser-based, but it will definitely help.


Yarny auto saves for you, tracks your word count (per snippet) and has version tracking - it also allows you to export your snippets as text files. I don't care for the export feature - since it only offers txt.  I would also have liked to see an import feature to allow a previous manuscript to be uploaded. 

I am undecided if this is the solution for me, but it is definitely neat. I may use it part time if I have a chapter I am working on and want to polish it up from work or on my tablet. I think it would be a great way for someone wanting to write without investing in a more specific novel-writing software.    A caveat - it is in beta right now.  It is free to sign up and there will apparently always be a free version available, but starting in December, there will be paid plans as well.   As a bit of incentive - if you are a nano winner - you are awarded a 50% discount on these paid plans...in case you happen to fall in love with it in the meantime.

http://www.getyarny.com

Monday, October 17, 2011

A lot can happen in a year

A year ago today, I ran my first half marathon - Nike Women's in San Francisco.  

Wow - I've certainly come a long way since then. 

Well, that explains it...

If preparing for 26.2, too much racing takes you away from your training and absorbs energy best spent on training, particularly long runs ~ Hal Higdon

Funn that this little gem should appear on Twitter this morning.  It explains so very very much.

Fresh Start Monday

Ok - the time for slacking off has come to an end.   I really let my diet slide while I was in marathon training.  So much so that I ended up gaining 12lbs during that time....eek.  And it wasn't in a pretty way.  

So, now I need to get back on track and today marks my fresh start on that. 

Today, I start tracking my food again

Today, I get back on the workout wagon again (tonight I start with my bike and Gossip Girl, again)

Today, Stop making excuses and just start doing it.

My goal?  To be at my goal weight by the end of the year.  That is 20lbs away so I have some work to do in the next 2 months.  I just want to be able to say that it took only two years to lose that 60lbs.  January marks the 2nd anniversary of my commitment to me and I'd like to be able to celebrate this year instead of looking at how far I still need to go.

BTW - it's 10:30 am and I think my stomach has started to eat itself.  Ah, how fun that first week always is...

and fair warning - if I start to feel myself making excuses to not try as hard - I may start posting all of my meals here...anything to keep me accountable.  But I'm not there yet...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Run, Run, Runner Girlies!!!

Today, my runner girlies and a couple of my other running buddies are running Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco.  To say that I wish I were there to cheer them on is an understatement.

A year ago, we ran it together (well, at the same time anyway since I got separated)  This was us at the start line (really bad self-portrait):


This year, I am thankful for technology so I can feel like I'm there.  I can cheer them on through email and text.  I can check in through BBM.  Most of all, though, I can check in on them with the Nike Women's Live Updates site!  I LOVE THIS!!!

It tells me when they crossed the start line and what times they hit certain points on the course.  Unfortunately, it also tells me when they are struggling - but I have BBM to check in and provide support.

I may not be there in person to cheer form the sidelines (because it is soooo unlikely I would tackle those hills again anytime soon) - but this is a close second!

Run, Run - Runner Girlies! (the twinners lent me their pom poms for the occasion!)


Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Reads: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Phew.  Finished just in time to feature it this week.  Sorry for the late post but it's worth it - I promise.

It has been a long time since a contemporary fantasy has captivated me like this one did - all 800 pages worth.  This one was witches and vampires and daemons and romance and science through and through.   It was a little like Twilight, but for adults and with real research and history to support the storyline.  So good.

Perhaps I should take a moment to elaborate why I draw the comparison to Twilight, because aside from the handsome vampire and the forbidden romance, the two books do little more than live in a similar world.   It is just a similarity that popped into my head as I was reading it.  I loved Twilight and I loved this - but Discovery has much more meat to it.

This is the story of a witch named Diana Bishop who has long denied her magic.  Despite coming from two powerful magical lineages, she feels compelled to make it on her own and build her reputation in a mundane way.  With her background as a historian and an expert in alchemical studies, she is working late in the Bodleian Library at Oxford when she encounters the Ashmole 782 - an alchemy manuscript that she can feel has a powerful spell placed on it.  With the touch of her hand - she breaks the spell and opens the book only to discover it is concealing a secret.  Shortly after returning the manuscript, she finds herself surrounded by creatures - vampires, witches and daemons - who all want to know what is contained within the Ashmole and are willing to go to any lengths to acquire this manuscript that has been missing for over a century.

Amongst these creatures is the gorgeous Matthew Clairmont - a scientist with a speciality in DNA...and a vampire.  He wants to know the secret of the manuscript but he doesn't expect the captivation that comes when he meets Diana.   He is instantly compelled to protect her from the creatures who would do anything to discover the source of her power for themselves and to harness this power to reveal the secret in the Ashmole.

As the pages progress, you are introduced to a whole host of interesting characters as both Diana and Matthew's families are revealed.   The character development is absolutely phenomenal.  And it extends beyond the beings as the houses and surroundings become characters in the story.

I don't want to go too far into the specifics of the plot because I think this book is simply magical.  It is not only a pleasure to read and become immersed in the magic of this world - it is also truly interesting and laced with delightful historical factoids and connections.   I didn't even realize how long it was until I read another glowing review of it.   The book is a story you never want to end.   I am so happy that it is merely book one of a trilogy because I know it is only a matter of months until I can jump in again.

If you like magic at all or were similarly smitten with the Twilight books - I highly recommend picking this one up.  It sucks you in immediately and doesn't let you go until the last word.   I finished it this morning and I almost want to start it all over again because I am not ready to be released from it's spell.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

19 days til NaNoWriMo!!!

Omigosh - it is already mid-October and suddenly time to start getting ready to rewrite my novel!!!  Very exciting stuff.   I don't know what I want to set as a word count =goal for the month, but I anticipate that after letting the book stew in the crock pot of my head for 11 months - I will have no problem adding another 50,000 words - and bringing it a bit closer to what I expect a good length for my first novel to be.

Last year, I wrote the first draft of my novel, The Loracian Stone. By the time I finished it there were so many plot changes and loose ends that I knew this book was far from done. This year, I intend to rewrite the novel and add A LOT to the manuscript - cleaning up and elaborating as I go. Technically, NaNo is for fresh, new novels, so I am breaking the rules a bit by doing this...but I think using it to structure a goal is a good idea for me.  Especially since NaNoEdMo didn't work out for me in March.

Do you have a novel in your head?  Why not think about spending a month getting it out of there!  I'd love to have some buddies for NaNo this year...and maybe, if you're local, we can even have our own little celebration at the end :)

Sign up at http://www.nanowrimo.org

Trust me - 50,000 words in a month isn't hard to reach.  it's only around 1500 a day (took me about an hour and a half of writing each day to reach it)