Camp NaNoWriMo Prepping Fun!

It’s been a while since my last writing update, and with only a day left before Camp NaNoWriMo begins it’s perfect timing for one. My goal was to write every day after November, figuring that I would have a really great habit going, but it didn’t work out. The holidays were a perfect distraction, but I am happy to say that I am writing more, it not every day. Actually writing down brainstorm ideas (keep a note going in your phone- it’s always with you anyway!) alone was a big step in the right direction- inspiration is everywhere. I also worked on a couple of shorter length pieces, and prepped for a couple new novel ideas.

Editing has proved to be tougher than I believed. I can see the problems with my novel, but it just seems so much more overwhelming than writing. It’s a slower process, and I may need a little more time away from it. The most frustrating thing is how illusive the right title is. I’ve been through about five at this point and it sounds like a little thing, but without a title I’m having clarity issues. I keep plodding through bit by bit, and plan on using it as a distraction when I want to work on something other than the current project.

Overall, I find I’m happier when I’m writing and accomplishing things, so I make sure to make time to sit down and actually put words on the page.

CAMP NANO PREP

Originally I was going to use the more flexible camp format to work on an Adult Sci-fi idea that I was developing. With an ensemble cast of 7 characters I was going to work on their backstories so I had a strong base to begin writing.

But things rarely go as planned right? Since finding out I am pregnant my sleeping patterns have totally changed. I have a harder time getting to sleep, and tend to sleep in, lingering in bed late, especially on weekends. On one such weekend, I woke with a great idea forming in my head. The setting was inspired by an article about overcrowding in New York City, and I had characters, a loose plot, and a great setting in mind. I grabbed my phone and typed it all in. I was so excited. Everything seemed to work and it was more solid than the idea I had been developing, so I made the choice to switch ideas.

My (much smaller this time) scene breakdown I printed for my Camp Novel.

My (much smaller this time) scene breakdown I printed for my Camp Novel.

Since the synopsis I wrote is available publicly on the Camp site I would share it here as well:

————

16 year-old Kaitlyn lives in a future NYC where the buildings have literally grown into every possible space, looming overhead; an interconnected conglomerate of brick and steel fire-escapes.

Suffocating in the middle of a brick tomb, Kaitlyn must get a job to help support her family when her mother becomes injured. She turns to the Runner’s Agency; a group that hires out fearless runners to navigate the city’s dangerous steel avenues to deliver goods to it’s citizens with enough money to stay safe inside their upper level homes.

Kaitlyn soon meets Archer, a top-level boy while running errands for his family. Sheltered by his family’s wealth he nurtures a love for history, art, and tales of the world beyond New York. He helps fuel Kaitlyn’s dreams of escaping the smog and everyday perils of the city. What she doesn’t know is that danger lurks in more places than just the hostile cityscape.

Kaitlyn’s determination to save enough money to leave causes her to rise through the runner ranks rapidly- upsetting those at the top of heap. And the consequences could be deadly.

————

I’m excited to take what I learned in November and apply it to this novel. Always looking for ways to improve and get better!

Are any of you going to Camp as well? What kind of projects are you working on? I would love to hear about it!

Home Inventory

I was inspired today when reading a blog post from the awesome Cunningham Family in Bush Alaska Blog. That family has been living in the bush for several years and I am an avid reader, always hoping to glean tips from them! Today she talked about taking an inventory of household items so that they knew what they would need after summer break. I had not thought of that, but it is brilliant! There is no way that I’m going to remember what I have in my pantry here after two months away.

So I quickly flipped over to google and tried to find a good template. Unfortunately, although I found many beautiful templates, none of them were exactly what I was looking for. Fortunately, I know my way around Excel, so I hunkered down and started formatting what I would need. All of my stage management skills are paying off on this one!

Inventory start

This is the start of my home inventory. Over the next couple months I will be filling out each section. What you can’t see are my sections for Office Supplies, Pet Care, and the ever-important Misc section for the things that don’t fit elsewhere! I’m confident that this will help so much when planning our Bush Orders and shopping trips in Anchorage in August. I even put a column for how many we will need to buy, so half of my shopping list will be done before I ever have to worry about it.

I would be happy to share my completed template with anyone else who needs one. You can find the file on dropbox for download here. To add more rows in any section simply click in the section you want to add to Click HOME > INSERT > INSERT SHEET ROWS as many times as you need.

I hope you enjoyed the inventory! Have you ever done a home inventory before? How did you organize it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Baby in the Bush!

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We’ve all seen this sign at the hospital or doctor’s office before. I’ve never had to think much about it. Actually the most thought I’ve ever given it was that I believed if you were pregnant you couldn’t get an x-ray.

Turns out you can.

In an exciting turn of events out here in the Bush, I found out I was pregnant because of the warning of a sign like this. Actually it was translated into Yupik as well, but you get the idea. Flashback to the end of January when I woke up with some really bad shortness of breath. Long story short, I visited the clinic in the village, took an inhaler and some Motrin, but they wanted me to be seen at the Hospital in Bethel for x-rays. They had heard some wheezing and wanted to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia.

After a ride with the principal in a truck over the frozen river, I was checked in and triaged at the hospital. It’s times like this that I’m so grateful that I live as close to Bethel as I do. It’s only a 20 minute drive, which is actually closer than the hospital I used to go to growing up- we would drive 40 minutes. Granted, the logistics out here are a little more difficult, and I was lucky that someone with a car was available, and that the river was still frozen solid.

I was asked by the x-ray technician if I could be pregnant. I looked at the calendar. Well… it was really early, almost too soon to tell I thought, but I said there was indeed a small chance. I felt a little silly when they rolled me away without an x-ray and I had to wait another hour in the waiting room for the results of my pregnancy test. During that time I was texting with my husband who was in Anchorage for the weekend at a teacher’s conference. I was annoyed with waiting, breathing better, and just wanted to sleep. But that would have to wait.

When I was (finally) ushered back for my x-ray the nurse had invited the lab technician up to give me my results- the test was positive! They were all on edge- not knowing how I would react, but all I could think of was that there was no way I was going to be able to tell my husband until he came home in two days, as this was not news I could break via text message. The nurse laughed and told me she didn’t know what to do either.

As for an x-ray when pregnant- you just get wrapped in extra heavy duty lead aprons, and luckily they were targeting my lungs and not lower. It was uncomfortable, but completely safe.

Now I’m just about done with my first trimester (depending on who you ask!) at 13 and a half weeks. I’m excited and exhausted. My sister-in-law is also pregnant and due a month before me, so that is exciting as well- it will be a year full of babies and love. As a first-time-mom (it feels so weird to say that!) I am going through a lot of new firsts, and learning a whole lot; but mostly I’m learning to just relax. I will be seeing doctors in 3 different cities during this pregnancy because we won’t be living in Alaska over the summer, but baby isn’t due until the end of September when we will be back here. They don’t offer any sort of pain medication during childbirth in Bethel, and I’m not comfortable without having the option, so I’ve decided to deliver in Anchorage. The logistics are kind of insane. The schedule of appointments is also more spread out here, and I am learning to just trust the doctors and trust in the fact that women have given birth for thousands of years without checking in with a doctor every other week. Thankfully everything seems to be right on track and the doctor said both baby and I were looking healthy, and that is all I can hope for.

I promise to continue blogging about Alaska adventures and writing, and that this won’t turn into a ‘mommy blog’ (not that there is anything wrong with mommy blogs- I read enough of them now!) but I just wanted to share the reason I haven’t been as active with writing lately. Hopefully I will catch that second trimester energy everyone keeps telling me about!

Oh, and for those who are curious, this is how we announced the pregnancy to Facebook: (can you tell we love Dr. Who??)

Much to the excitement of Mum and Not-Mum!

Much to the excitement of Mum and Not-Mum!

Thanks for reading!

Awesome Sauce

tomato-paste

Moving to Alaska has changed my life so drastically. In some ways the changes are huge- in terms of what I do for a living, how I view the world, etc. And other ways are very small. Like how I look at tomato sauce. Pre-Alaska Liz would just grab a jar of whatever was cheapest off the shelf at the grocery store, as long as it wasn’t Ragu or mushroom flavored, and move on without another thought. Post-Alaska Liz looks at the cost of shipping for liquids and has to think of another solution.

I realized that I had brought some cans of tomato paste with me when moving. Why, I wasn’t quite sure… I don’t think I had ever used it before, but it was part of the staples I shipped up in the late summer. Tomato sauce is really just paste and water right? I guess there are some spices too. It couldn’t be that hard to make yourself right?

It took me several tries, but I seem to have landed on a recipe that I really like. I didn’t look anything up online, I just took what I like personally and went with it. I hope you like it!

Liz’s Awesome Tomato Sauce

1 6oz can of Tomato Paste
1 6oz can of warm water
1 TBSP Onion Powder
1.5 TBSP Garlic Salt
1 TBSP Dried Oregano
4 tsp Sugar

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well. You can add or subtract spices or change quantities to taste. I don’t usually use strict measures when cooking like this- you get a feel for the right amount by how it looks. I estimated my usage above- feel free to experiment! The sugar really is the secret though- you don’t need a lot, but it cuts the acidity of the tomato paste, and changes the whole flavor of the sauce.

I hope you enjoy the sauce as much as I do! If you try the recipe, please let me know in the comments- what did you change? I can’t wait to hear from you!