Tag Archives: books

Project Dreamcatcher: Goal Schedule

In which I admit I am struggling with my deadlines. No Ted Talk this week.

My iMac is being rebuilt at the Genius Bar. It’s taking longer than I expected. And I am struggling: I’ve been writing longhand in my pretty journal, but it’s not the way I prefer to write and it’s slowing me down. I haven’t had as much time to write as I thought I would.

I have admittedly put myself on a pretty tight schedule with tight deadlines (see below). And when I start to miss looming deadlines, my risk-aversive brain starts going into escape mode. What cupcakes can I make? Can I go to the gym instead? Or, shamefully, I discovered “Scandal” was streaming on NetFlix and decided to see what the fuss was all about one valuable free night. Four HOURS later!!

This procrastination then leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of shame and guilt. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the hugeness of the goal I have set (30,000 perfect, ready to be published words! In 2 months! With no computer right now!)

Anyway. That’s where my head has been. I reached out a Project Dreamcatcher member and admitted all this. She told me that I tend to be negative toward myself (true) and while I am positive about what I get done and accomplish, I’m very hard on myself when I’m in a nebulous territory.

That’s when I realized that I have some tools for this.

First: the have dones. It helped me to look at what I have accomplished this week.

1. Diagnosed, backed up and saved data then dealt with and got cheapest fix possible for iMac. Brought iMac to Genius Bar. Followed up.
2. Received changes from one editor for 1st half of book. In process of reviewing changes.
3. Got final bids for transcription services. Got closer to making final decision.
4. Began and made it halfway through research and writing of newest profile.

I mean, this is not where I want to be, but it IS progress.

I also started imagining a stop sign when I started berating myself. Weirdly, this helped to stop those negative thoughts in their tracks.

Finally, I remembered that I could be honest here, with you guys, who have been so supportive of this project. And that would help me, too.

So. Want to see my aggressive timeline of deadlines? Of course you do 😉

Week of June 17th: send story to profile subject for approval. Finalize transcription service. Begin next profile. Review edits for completed chapters.

Week of June 24th: complete second profile, send to subject for approval. Get completed transcriptions, send to editors. Begin to investigate cost of cover art and PDF conversion of document to Kindle.

Week of July 1: complete third profile, send to subject for approval. Review changes to transcriptions. Choose vendors to get quotes from. Investigate legal fees/language and reprints of poems/song lyrics.

Week of July 8: complete 4th profile, send to subject for approval. Review proposals from vendors of art, PDF format. Investigate cost of hard cover books.

Week of July 15: vacation. But: write 5th profile, send to subject. Send approved profiles to editors.

Week of July 22: write 6th profile, send to subject. Finalize cover art and PDF vendor. Decide on hard cover book. Resolve legal issues.

Week of July 29: Write 6th profile, send to subject. Write introductory chapter.

Week of August 5: end of Project Dreamcatcher. Write 7th chapter, send to subject.

Rest of August:
Write 3 more profiles, get approvals.
Forward and Afterward
Get all edits done and back
Pick cover art
Get finalized document to Kindle vendor
Deal with Amazon

Not included in all of this of course? The many tweaks and changes that will occur as I proceed. This is a working document that will constantly be fluid.

Ugh. It’s a lot. But it’s worth it. I know it is.

I want to tell you all that I am here for you too: if you need advice, encouragement or just a little reassurance. I’m on Twitter at @2manyfish2fry and I’m Too Many Fish To Fry on Facebook or just email me at jessicacarroll@hotmail.com.

For everyone/anyone: do you find providing yourself with a timeline of deadlines is helpful to getting a goal accomplished? Or do you think it stresses you out too much?

And sorry for a lack of links and or typos: I’m currently using my phone to write blog posts. :/ I will update with links tomorrow!!


Filed under getting published, Project Dreamcatcher, writing

The Joy of Reading


I cannot read a book to save my life these days.

I have always been the “girl-with-her-nose-in-a-book” type, so this is a strange and unwelcome development.

Has my brain been fried by all of the texting and blog reading I’ve done? Do I need the back light of a screen? The back and forth between comments and commenters? The bells and whistles and rabbit holes? I don’t really know why I can’t read a book. But unless I’m on vacation/have no access to my iPad, I can’t get through a hard-bound publication. Maybe this is why I see people now featuring photos of themselves with neat, olde thyme-y vintage books in pictorials and in Kinfolk: perhaps reading a book is now an aspirational goal?

On the other hand, I can read aloud. That holds my attention properly. The twins and I have been reading the Little House books. It’s a strange thing to revisit a book that you read as a child when you are an adult. I didn’t originally notice Ma’s casual racism nor did I note how odd it was that Pa moved the family around so much. Nor did I contemplate how dangerous so many of their adventures were. But there are many things to admire, too: the stoicism of the Ingalls, the strong personality of Laura herself (she was tough as nails), Pa’s openheartedness, Ma’s formidable cheerfulness. Most of all, I admire how much they made from scratch.

Can you imagine a family moving to a wilderness area today and building their own house from nearby trees and rocks and mud? That’s what the Ingalls did in Little House on the Prairie. Or managing a full, self-sustaining farm, as the more prosperous Wilders did in Farmer Boy? Ten year old Almanzo played a crucial part in growing the family’s food. Of course, he also played a crucial part in EATING a lot of that food, too. So many of the scenes featured a famished Almanzo eating the largest array of food imaginable, including the ever-intriguing “Bird’s Nest Pudding.” (What WAS that, anyway? I still want to know.) My daughter asked me the other day, “Why don’t we make more stuff?” A good question, and something I find myself increasingly eager to do.

Have you re-read any books you loved as a child and noticed nuances and character flaws you didn’t the first time around? Do you also have difficulty concentrating while reading a “real” book?


Filed under writing

“Having the Billionaire’s Baby”: A Book Review

I recently returned from a wonderful visit with my parents. We stayed in a lovely rental house on a lake.

My WiFi died, and I finished the book I had (“Bad Day for Sorry” by Sophie Littlefield: which was great fun) so I checked out the rental’s bookshelf. There were three choices:

The Bible and two Harlequin books:

The Rich Man’s Baby

I love that he’s wearing a tux while standing in front of a random house, probably photoshopped from a mid-range suburban development called “The Estates.” Because nothing says “rich man” like a tuxedo and a tract home?

And, Having the Billionaire’s Baby

I mean, go big, right? A mere “rich man” doesn’t tempt quite like a “billionaire” does.

When suffering from insomnia, I read and tweet, and so I declared my intention to read this on my dying phone with its weak 3G signal.

Kristin quickly responded:

Which, good point.

So I began reading. Quickly I could identify with the main character, a 22 year old woman who is about to disrupt the wedding of the man she thinks she’s in love with.

Turns out “Dirk” (heh) is her next door neighbor. She has loved him from afar since she was 12. BUT SHE HASN’T SPOKEN TO HIM IN YEARS. So, naturally, she decides to blow up his wedding by declaring her “love” for him.

As you do.

What an asshole.

Luckily, the “billionaire” has a sixth sense that Serena, our “heroine” is going to try some shenanigans (HOW? Not explained) so he decides to block her at her pew as she tries to rush to the front of the aisle.

Luckily, the near ruin of someone’s wedding by a practical stranger is played for laughs.

Serena and her billionaire (described as a “granite” like presence: no one brings teh sexy like a rock, right?) adjourn to outside the church to bond. The billionaire used to be the bride’s husband, but turns out he didn’t love her like she deserved to be loved. Soon their musing turns into hot attraction.

So much so that:

Maybe Harlequin novels contribute to many people’s ignorance about infertility because there are consequences to the one-night stand.

After this initial beginning, the book plays out exactly as you would imagine: Serena keeps her pregnancy from the billionaire, billionaire finds out and boy is HE pissed, then they fall in LUURVE. Because nothing brings random strangers together like a random pregnancy.

Also, the billionaire is 34. 34!! He’s no Mark Zuckerburg, either: he doesn’t seem to even own a mobile phone or a laptop or really use any technology at all.

All in all, I think this is maybe the definitive comment about “Billionaire’s Baby”, from The Adventures of Chicken and Ham:

@2manyfish2fry this book is like an unofficial autobiography of my life, except the complete opposite

What I WANT TO KNOW is what audience is this aimed at? Gold diggers who want to trap a billionaire with a love child? And I shudder to think that is a big demographic!!



Filed under Dumb, Infertility, WTF

Now For Something Completely Different…Classic Romance Novels

I’m not really sure how I missed this post the first time around.

My dad is a serious book snob. For “my” birthday one year, he bought me a leather-bound, acid-free paged, gold-leafed series of Classic Novels. Among them: “Pride and Prejudice,” “War and Peace,” “Great Expectations,” “Arabian Nights,” “The Three Musketeers.”

I could not have been less interested in these weighty novels. But they were PERFECT for disguising the flimsy paperbacks I was REALLY reading.

As always, there was a gateway. My gateway was my friend Wendy, who every year would spend the summer in Florida at her dad and stepmom’s house. Her stepmom had an EPIC collection of historical romance: maybe it was the climate? Wendy would bring a few home with her, each year, and would smuggle them away from her disapproving mom.

When I was 16, she brought home a trilogy by Valerie Sherwood and let me borrow it, one book at a time.

From Goodreads:

“A sweet wild madness swept over Carolina Lightfoot at the sight of elegant Lord Thomas Angevine, reputed to be the most notorious rake in London. The proud Colonial beauty, graced with silvergold hair and flashing eyes, hoped to be his bride. Then, swept into a growing storm of scandal, she was banished to Virginia. Captured by buccaneers on the high seas, Carolina became the Silver Wench of the Caribbean…and the defiant prisoner of the infamous Kells, a brooding man with insolent charm andd a mysterious past.

On the island of Tortuga, where gentle winds caressed the perfumed nights and a lustrous moon whispered love’s allure, Carolina must escape…to find Thomas again, and to flee Kells’ passionate embrace, the rapturous temptation of his…LOVESONG”

I mean, how could boring Porthos compete with a man named “the infamous Kells?” Who, suspiciously, resembled Lord Angevine. Like a lot. Needless to say, the series set my standard for the next few years.

There was a typical plot I stuck to: the hero needed to be a “buccaneer” from the early 1700s. NOT A PIRATE! Buccaneers were English noblemen in disguise who ran rum in Colonial America as a way to stick it to the Spanish. Because nothing was more noble than supplying the colonies with alcohol? And that made the Spanish angry? I was never sure of the particulars.

The heroine needed to be reduced in circumstances, very spirited or “mercurial,” and possessed of a very unusual type of beauty: violet-eyed with platinum hair, cocoa-skinned and emerald eyed, etc.

Extra bonus points if:

– The buccaneer, for all his “roughness,” was actually well-educated in England by a governess, and the study on his ship contained the kind of leather-bound tomes I hid my reading in.
– The buccaneer owned a secret island in the Caribbean.
– There were misunderstandings and “secret identities,” which could be seen from a mariner’s mile away.
– There was revenge upon those who reduced the heroine’s circumstances.
– Action!

In college, I “graduated” to Amanda Quick novels. She was a bit more upmarket: her novels were set in the Regency period, the heroine was generally characterized by her geekery, smarts and wit (not her beauty), and the hero was generally some kind of Viscount or something with a tragic and misunderstood back story. There was often a mystery to be solved: usually about the tragic and misunderstood back story.

From Goodreads, again:

“There was no doubt about it. What Miss Harriet Pomeroy needed was a man. Someone powerful and clever who could help her rout the unscrupulous thieves who were using her beloved caves to hide their loot. But when Harriet summoned Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, to her aid, she could not know that she was summoning the devil himself.

Dubbed the Beast of Blackthorne Hall for his scarred face and lecherous past, Gideon was strong and fierce and notoriously menacing. Yet Harriet could not find it in her heart to fear him. For in his tawny gaze she sensed a savage pain she longed to soothe…and a searing passion she yearned to answer. Now, caught up in the beast’s clutches, Harriet must find a way to win his heart — and evade the deadly trap of a scheming villain who would see them parted for all time.”

I adore that her name is Harriet. Nothing says “spirited nerd” like the name Harriet. (I say that with love.)

I eventually read “Pride and Prejudice” and all of the other books my dad gave me and loved them.

But those romance novels really kept my love of reading alive and well when I was a crabby teenager hiding in my room, trying to avoid yard work chores.

(Our house had many trees that shed many types of debris all year-round. Lord, I hated them!)

What books did you love reading that may have been, er, somewhat less well-regarded than Margaret Atwood’s work?

And, are you going to read that book-that-shall-not-be-named here, for my brother reads this blog and he is the BIGGEST book snob around.

(I say that with love.)


Filed under Dumb