mid-year check-in and Exciting Announcement!

Like many bloggers, I posted a list of goals back in January, and now that June is creeping to a close, I thought I'd revisit them. ALSO, I have a very, very, very Exciting Announcement (oh yes, that is deserving of caps) to share with you all!

First, though, the goals.


35 books
I'm actually ahead of schedule on this one -- three books, to be exact! Check out all of the fabulous (and not-so-fabulous) books I've devoured on my Goodreads Challenge page, or browse through my "scribbles of the past" in the sidebar.


100,000 words
I signed up for WriYe, a year-long spinoff of NaNoWriMo, but, erm, I've written only 1,159 words so far this year (not including a few handwritten pages). Ha.


spend more time outside
Check! Since I live on a homestead, I'm spending lots of time outdoors!

learn to knit socks
mmm, nope. My knitting repertoire is limited to two potholders thus far.

finish the One Year Bible
Sadly, I finally gave up on this one in favor of exploring other Bible study techniques.

practice yoga regularly
I've been mildly successful in this, as I do yoga at least once each week. But I'm also more active in general, so I don't feel like I've really failed in this area.

start a healthy (early) morning routine
Since this spring has been a little... odd, what with two moves, I haven't quite figured out the perfect routine yet.

others... ?
I had added this thinking I'd set monthly goals for myself, but instead, I took on a rather large project, which leads me to my Exciting Announcement...

I launched my editing website!
Writers, I am now offering proofreading and copyediting services for all types of text, from blogs to novels. And readers, there's something for you, too -- I plan to organize blog tours and book blitzes, but first, I need hosts! Visit my website to see how you can help support authors and get free books.

If you think you remember, somewhere in the dusty recesses of your mind, that I talked about doing this before, you are right. This website has been a long time coming, and for a while, I wasn't sure if it would actually happen. But I have been studying and planning and doing freelance work on UpWork in preparation of this frabjous day, and it has finally arrived!

So take a look around and let me know what you think!

Did you set goals for yourself this year? If so, how are you doing? Also, I'd love to hear what exciting thing (or things!) you've done this month!


birthday book haul!

Confession: the top two books on this stack were bought at Barnes & Noble with a non-birthday gift card. But I did buy them on my birthday, after a special birthday dinner of burritos eaten in a park by the lake (and Ben & Jerry's ice cream cones from a serendipitously found scoop shop). Anywho, the stack:

Dragondrums (Harper Hall of Pern #3)
by Anne McCaffrey
I don't have book two, nor have I read it, but Dragondrums was the only book in this trilogy that Barnes & Noble had in stock. This is very sad, because I adored Dragonsong (book one) and was very much looking forward to Dragonsinger. I suppose I'll just have to go back another time. Oh darn.

I Am Malala
by Malala Yousafzai
Since I rarely buy new books, I often go into bookstores with a list carefully selected (read: hastily thrown together at the last minute) from my Goodreads TBR so that I have some idea of what books I might want to drag home with me. I Am Malala was not on the list I took with me to B&N, but I've been wanting to read it since it came out. No more excuses.

The Lost Art of Real Cooking
by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger
This was a gift from my grandmother, whose former neighbor's daughter is the co-author. Feel free to read that sentence another three times or so until it makes sense. It's a bit unusual as far as cookbooks go, in that the recipes are written in paragraph form (no lists of ingredients), and it includes such recipes as yogurt, ghee, and beef jerky, alongside the more familiar bread, salad, and soup.

Samara's Peril (Ilyon Chronicles #3)
by Jaye L. Knight
The Ilyon Chronicles is one of my favorite Christian fantasy series, so I was really excited to receive Samara's Peril! My husband even had it signed by Jaye L. Knight, who wrote a birthday message in my favorite color (a happy coincidence, apparently). I have to wait a few weeks to read it, though, because I'm re-reading the first two books and still haven't made it through book one just yet.

Update! (6/23/16)
I just received this gem in the mail as a belated part two to the gifts from my parents:

Associated Press Stylebook 2016
Practical gifts are sometimes just as exciting as fun ones. Especially when you're a nerd. On a somewhat related note, keep your eyes open for an exciting announcement on the blog! (It'll make more sense when you see the announcement post; I promise...)


eleven lessons learned from Les Miserables {book review}

After six months, I finally finished reading this behemoth of a book. 1,463 pages. And since reading the last lines (which I re-read at least three times before putting the book down because I didn't want it to end), I have been caught in this limbo between "what do I do with my life" and "I can read FANTASY again!!!" And since it was, of course, absolutely amazing, I have decided to shower you with a list of lessons I have learned, with a generous sprinkling of quotes throughout.

1. This book is titled Les Miserables because there is no cake.
"He noticed that there was only one shop in the street left open, and that one, a matter worthy of reflection, a pastry shop. This was a providential opportunity to eat one more apple turnover before embarking on the unknown. Gavroche stopped ... turned out his pockets, found nothing in them ... and began to cry, 'Help!' It is hard to just miss out on the ultimate cake." (p. 1071)

2. The bishop is the best character. Period.
Seriously, though, I was warned that the book got more interesting after the first 58 pages, but I actually think those were my favorite. Why? Because they're about the bishop, the kindest, most selfless character I've ever read about. Although he seems to play a minor role in the story (despite his lengthy bio), the bishop just might be the most influential character in the whole novel.

3. Even those without money can be rich.
"The poor young man ... enters God's theater free. ... He looks at humanity so much that he sees the soul, he looks at creation so much that he sees God." (p. 685)

4. Everyone is important.
"Is the underworld of civilization, because it is deeper and gloomier, less important than the upper? Do we really know the mountain when we do not know the cavern?" (p. 983)

5. In fact, everything is important. Even the sewer.
By which I mean...

6. Victor Hugo had a deep and passionate love for Paris.
Les Miserables is his love letter to the city. It is so verbose because he felt it necessary to include everything -- the people, the street names, the history, and yes, even the layout of the sewer, which he described in great detail.

7. And his editor, apparently, didn't mind.
If, in fact, he had an editor. Which I doubted more and more as I waded through this enormous beast, because why were there 50 pages written about the battle of Waterloo, when five would have sufficed? And why, might I ask, did I need to know every little detail about the robbers' lingo, argot? I did not. And I must admit that I skimmed large amounts of text in this book, which is a thing I never ever do when reading fiction.

But amidst all of the unnecessary political mumbo-jumbo (lots of meaningless French names, etc.), there was one character who agreed with me...

8. It's ok for passion to replace politics.
"M. Mabeuf's political opinion was a passionate fondness for plants, and a still greater one for books." (p. 688)

9. Victor Hugo was a writer, activist, and, perhaps, philosopher.
"The pupil dilates in the night, and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it." (p. 1397)

"'To keep silent is simple? No, it is not simple. There is a silence that lies.'" -Jean Valjean (p. 1397)

10. The moral of the story is this:
"He who does not weep does not see." (p. 1220)

11. And, also, that there is always hope.
"The book the reader has now before his eyes -- from one end to the other, in its whole and in its details, whatever the omissions, the exceptions, or the faults -- is the march from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from the false to the true, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from brutality to duty, from Hell to Heaven, from nothingness to God. Starting point: matter; goal: the soul." (p. 1242)

Have you ever read Les Miserables? Did you come away with other lessons you'd like to share? And if you haven't garnered up the courage to tackle it yet, do you plan to someday?


finding Purpose

A few months ago, I hinted at the possibility of a big move. Well, looking at you from the other side of this great event, I can tell you it's not at all what I expected. Instead of heading south, we came north. I could explain the why and how -- which is a fun story -- but for brevity's sake, I'll jump right into the where and what.

I live at the very end of a dirt road in the mountains, where my husband and I are full-time volunteers on a non-profit homestead run by the family living in the house to which our current apartment is attached. I am tired almost from the moment I wake up in the morning, and if my muscles don't ache when I crawl out of bed, they almost certainly do by the time I crawl back in. And yet, I don't want to be anywhere else right now. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.

When I finish working for the day, even though I'm exhausted and the work is never truly done (it is a farm, after all), I don't feel compelled to throw a frozen dinner in the the oven and drop on the couch, or simply crawl under a rock and disappear. These are things that I felt in the past several years, while working office jobs, but I don't feel them now. Now, I am excited about the kitchen again. I walk into the apartment after digging and hoeing and mulching and sweating, ready to experiment with strawberry bread or figure out what to make for supper using asparagus and wilting arugula. Or, a constant battle, how many different ways I can use eggs (we have 37 laying hens in our backyard...).

I have been saying "I want to farm" for years, and sometimes the longing grew so strong that it became an ache within my soul. But recently I have been questioning that. Is farming a feasible occupation for me? Do I even want to do it anymore? Then I came here, and I know that this is my purpose. Every aching muscle tells me that I am feeding hungry people, and that is a beautiful thing.

I look out my window and see chickens, squirrels, and songbirds; I turn and smile at the solar panel providing our home with renewable energy. And at night, sometimes, I can open the back door and listen to barred owls calling to each other like howler monkeys.

My weeks are filled with planning, digging, and growing gardens. And my Sunday worship consists of volunteering at the local food distribution, where my low-income neighbors "shop" through a smorgasbord of items that the grocery store rejected and, thankfully, donated to our humble cause. I am not a people person -- not by far -- but as these souls wander through the fellowship hall, cheerfully loading up their grocery bags, we smile and greet each other and discuss the virtues of different kinds of bread. We laugh over spilled grape tomatoes rolling across the floor, and stoop to pick them up. The kind woman who dropped them takes the package anyway -- they'll be good as new after a thorough rinsing, she points out.

I'm not at all where I thought I'd be right now, but I'm exactly where I belong. God has a purpose for each of us. This is mine.