November 2021 Playlist and NaNoWrimo Talk

I hope everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo finished and got your certificate and all the cool discounts. I’d love to give away my 50% off code for Scrivener so if you’re interested, let me know in the comments. I have the application and use it every so often, but my go-to is Word. I believe Scrivener is $50 so you’d get it for $25. The most updated version is pretty awesome so I’m going to try my hands at it again.

Also, Scrivener and Vellum work hand-in-hand. They are not related in any way but you can convert a Scrivener file into Vellum and then open it up in Vellum. It’s really cool. As for Vellum, they are having a really good deal right now for 30% off. I believe I got Vellum at a discount but it wasn’t 30% off, and I wish I did. So, you lucky people are truly lucky.

I don’t work for either of these businesses nor do I get anything via affiliation from them. I use them both and I’m all for writers getting the opportunity to write, so that’s why I’m sharing this information.

November’s playlist was a bit bland. I listened to mostly the Christmas music because I wanted to be in the spirit, but I did get a few good songs in during NaNo. I decided to make a digital scrapbooking layout of my playlist.

For some reason “Vienna” by Gregorian was just so beautiful and poignant that I had to have it on repeat.

Can you believe it’s December? Any writing goals this month? I don’t normally write my stories. I usually take a break to work on December Daily. I will have to share a bit more about my process and some of my past layouts, and maybe even current layouts. Having said that, I may write a couple of short stories and continue on my NaNo novel so I could be ahead. I’ve got most of my Christmas shopping done so I’ll have a little bit of extra time to do these things.

Layout credits: Autumn Garden Kit by Et Designs, Hello Autumn Kit by Emeto, Alphas from Digital Scrapbook Ingredients, and number font is Forever Together Sans.

Graduation

Over the weekend I graduated with my Master’s degree. I never thought I’d ever get here so I’m pretty thrilled. I started my program in the fall of 2009 and then took a hiatus in the summer of 2010. I had wanted to return but family life was more of a priority at the time. Last summer, the university called me to tell me that if I wasn’t planning on continuing my degree, they would purge my file and I would have to reapply if I wanted to continue later. This would mean I would need to retake some classes. I had put so much time and effort into getting into the university that I didn’t know if I could do that again so I told them I’d continue now. The other thing was that I had wanted to continue a few years back but when I had looked at my program, I thought it had been discontinued. I told them my concern and they said it wasn’t discontinued. It was just under a different name.

At graduation, I learned that I was graduating with honors. I was surprised. I thought I had a B in one of my earlier classes in 2009, but it turns out, I didn’t. I had one A- but the rest were A’s. I know, this is such a small thing but it feels great for me because it was my goal to ace all my classes. In my undergraduate degree, I had so much going on that as hard as I tried to bring my grades up, it just wasn’t possible. So, I am very proud of myself that given the time and opportunity, I’m able to do exactly what I set out to accomplish.

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Below, I tried to mimic a photo taken in May 2009 when my husband graduated with his Doctorate. The little girl (who’s not so little anymore, but still is) is my youngest.

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2017 Favorites

The year flew by. I tried and failed at many things this year, but this last day of the year, I’m going to share the positive things, and my favorites.

The photo above is a dish I made trying out roasted purple cauliflower.  It’s hard to see but to the right of the salmon is purple cauliflower rice, which I made too. The fish is salmon sprinkled with fresh dill, paprika, garlic salt, black pepper, and topped with slices of limes.  I’ve never cooked with cauliflower before but I think this will be my new favorite thing because I really like the flavor and how easy it is to cook cauliflower.

I’m very proud to say that I accomplished two of my five goals this year.  One of them was to start school again…actually, to resume my master’s program from 2010.  So far, I’ve completed three classes and have four to go.  I’m going to try and load up on classes so that I finish by end of Spring 2018.  The other goal was to read 12 books.  I ended up reading 34 books.  A lot of it was due to freelancing as a book reviewer.  I was doing about three to four books a month starting in July.  I still read for leisure and still enjoy it

Here are my favorite books of the year:

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  This was such a lovely and fun story with romance, magic, and suspense.

2. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.  This was a beautiful story told through the eyes of a young boy growing up in the 60’s.  The world building was fabulous.  I felt like I was right there with the boy.  The characters were well thought out and vivid.  McCammon really knows how to tug at your heart.

3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.  This was a well written classic about a man upset about the way his cousin died.  He was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery but somehow he becomes completely mesmerized by Rachel.  I saw the movie after reading the book and didn’t think it was as good.  If anything, read the book.


Can’t live without music.  For a sci-fi story I’ve been writing, I’ve got a few songs that go along with certain scenes.  Initially, I was going to submit the story to an anthology but I missed the deadline.  Okay, I have to remember I’m not going to focus on my failures (lol).  Anyway, here’s the cover for the book, and yes, that’s my pen name because I write different genres.

If you want to know a little about the story (the background story), you can check out my writing blog at, The Writing Sparrow.  It’s a new blog and I don’t have much there yet, but come 2018, there will be.

These are the songs that go with a few scenes in my story, but they are also favorites:

1. Immortal by Missing in Action

2. Last Hope by Antoine Heid (it’s just coincidence that my title has these two words in it).

3. Love on the Brain by Rhianna.

4. Elastic Heart by Sia

5. Wings (acoustic) by Birdy


I’ve been somewhat of a movie junkie this year.  I could barely count how many movies I’ve watched at the theater and at home.  It feels great to be able to watch all these movies.  When I had my two kids, I went into a strange zone where I couldn’t watch movies or even TV shows and not think everyone was pretending.  For some reason that bothered me to no ends.  Now, I’m relieved to say that even if they were acting, it’s no problem.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.  My favorite movies this year are:

1. Passengers

2. King Arthur – Legend of the Sword

3. Blade Runner

4. Star Wars – The Last Jedi

I didn’t do as much drawing and painted as I had wanted.  There’s just isn’t enough time to do everything so I’ve had to just focus on what mattered to me.  And, what mattered this year was getting my stories out.  I submitted a fantasy to an anthology earlier in the year but they are backed up so they haven’t gotten to telling the submitters who made it or not.  I also sent the same fantasy story to my professor who enjoyed it and gave me an “A.”

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the new year!

A Few Song Favorites and Sketches

The kids are on spring break so I get a break from driving everywhere.  With this little down time, I’m able to do a ton of stuff: write, draw, write, spend time on FB writing groups, etc.  It’s nice.  I’m also reading a book that I’m almost done with and getting ready to review.

A few song favorites that I have on rotation:

“Wayfarer” by Clau M

“About Me and You” by Clau M

“Where Is My Place In This World” by Soundmopi

“A Boy and His Cat” by Kari Sigurosson

Practicing on some quick portrait sketches.  Wish I had more than just 5 Copic markers.  I’m really loving them but I just can’t fathom shelling out the money for them as a hobbyist.  As you can see, I can only really color one girl with the Copics.  I want to give the elf queen in the top left grayish white hair, the girl in the bottom left red hair, and the girl on the bottom right jet black hair.

Completed NaNoWriMo!

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I completed 50K words on November 30th!  This month’s goal was to do another 20K to finish the novel, but unfortunately, I just can’t find the time this month to do that.  In January, I will get it done.

Artifact Uprising And NaNoWriMo

Welcome November!  October felt a little long this year but it could be due to the steady weather we’ve had.  Just maybe a couple of days of rain during the night and zero snow.  Anyhow, in mid-September, Artifact Uprising offered free square prints and I thought I’d try it out to see what’s so special about them.  Well, I was surprised to find how beautiful they were.  The quality is superb and the packaging was clean and organized.  I can’t decide if I want to use them for my Christmas photo or go with who I normally do (Minted or Persnickety).  Who knew deciding the paper for a Christmas photo would be so stressful.  I am definitely leaning toward Artifact though.  It really depends on if I want to use templates or create my own design.  I am doing NaNoWriMo again this year.  Last year I got about 15,000 words in.  This time, I’m going for the finish: 50,000 words AND finish the novel.  So, if time permits, I’ll create my own Christmas card design, otherwise, Artifact it is, unless Minted has a really good discount or I’m completely drawn to one of their designs.  Yeah, I still can’t decide.

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I’m In Love

This is a fine beauty.  I’ve heard that it’s hard to start using it.  I’d have to agree.  I had ideas for it while it was in transit, but now that it’s in my hands, I don’t know if I can do anything other than stare at it.

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November Random

A week late but here they are:

MAC1120140004_800Husband replaced his first MacBook with the MacBook Air.  He’s had his first one since 2006 and it’s still running great.  The kids have it now.

UKMAIL1120140006_800Mail from my penpal in the U.K.  We’ve been penpals since I was a sophomore in high school.  The weird thing is, he now sends me his diaries.  They are pages and pages, months and months, of his night life.  He’s asked me to share my diaries.  I’ve thought about it but honestly I don’t have a diary and if I did, it would be boring.  I’m a mom.  I do what mom’s do.  Maybe when my kids are grown adults, I might have my own interesting diaries.

SWEETPORK1120140026_800Spices I use in making sweet pork.  I’ve tweaked my sweet pork recipe many times and they are pretty good but none have made my palate dance.  I’m getting closer I think.  So far, the spices above are hitting it but the amount of sweet sauce, brown sugar, and soy sauce, are still being worked on.  As for the pork, traditional Hmong sweet pork uses pork belly.  It’s too fatty for me so I prefer something with more meat but still has some fat like pork shoulder.

CASTLEWOODCANYON1120140022_800The family took our Christmas photo at Castlewood Canyon State Park.  It’s a pretty nice park in rural east.  Those are the Rockies in the distance.  Btw, I think Castlewood sounds like a perfect sir name for a fantasy character.  Maybe something like James Castlewood.  I can just read it already:

“And, how is Lord Castlewood?”

“The injuries only winded him, sire.  Nothing more.”