books · writing

It’s NaNoWriMo time again

And I’ve signed up. . . again.

This year I really wanted to win. To really put effort into my word count, but I’m (not surprisingly) off to a slow start. Only 500 words on the first day.

I’m not doing the official method in that I’m continuing a novel I started in 2020. I few days before NaNo started this year, I thought I’d better review what I’d written so far because it has been many months since I’ve done any work on it and I just don’t remember enough details to get back into cold. I thought I had a few thousand words, but it turns out I had almost 30,000 words. This is great because adding 50,000 would be a good length to finish it, but bad because I didn’t leave myself quite enough time to review all of that.

So I was still finishing my reading on day one, and looking for my original outline to also review. I spent a lot of time looking, and couldn’t find one, and I think I have to admit now, that I probably never made one. My outlines are not detailed. I pretty much just use the 7 point structure to give myself some points to aim at when I start to get bogged down or lost in the flow of things. One of the reasons I had stopped working on this story, despite loving what I have so far, is that I was kinda lost about where to head next. So I felt I really needed those points before I could move forward. So I spent more time yesterday writing up a quick 7 point plot, then diving back into the actual drafting.

As soon as I’m done procrastinating by writing this, I’m going to continue the novel. I have learned over the years that I can’t sit down and plunk out 1500 to 2000 words in one sitting, even if I have enough time blocked off. My brain just stops well short of those goals. I need several shorter sessions to make that kind of progress in a day. That’s a problem for work days when all I really have is the evening when I’m already exhausted. So to make this work, I need to do more on non-work days to make up for not being able to keep up on work days. But I also homeschool the kiddo, and while they are great at managing themselves, I’m not completely free to write whenever I want, but I know I can do better with my time management than I do.

That’s the goal. To do better with my time. Maybe I won’t hit 50,000, but I’ll make good progress in the attempt. I hope.

crafty things · crochet

August Temperature Blanket

August temperature blanket by Kara Hartz

Since August just finished, this entry could be misunderstood to reflect that month. Alas, I am now a full year behind on my temperature blanket. This represents the temperatures from August 2021.

My Christmas Amigurumi projects from last year were bigger and more complicated than ever, and I admit to having some crochet burnout afterward. I had done very little crochet at all for months. I started up again when the kiddo and I came down with Covid a month ago (coincidentally when many of my co-workers stopped masking – to add my personal anecdotal evidence into the pro-mask collum) and we isolated together in my bedroom. They got me all caught up on the Marvel verse with a week-long movie and series marathon, and I started making progress on the temperature blanket again.

It is interesting to look back at last year’s temperatures at the same time I’m experiencing this year’s. Last year, while the temps were still high, with many days in the 90s, this week has been brutal, with yesterday and today hitting near or over 115. Because I have a record, I know we never hit that high last year. The rest of the week should be in the lower 100s, but that nice green stripe on the blanket representing temps in the low 80s is looking really nice.

Well, now that the sun has set, I’d best get out to water my plants so they have a chance to survive the rest of this heat wave.

cats

5 Years Old and Cancer Free

Panther on her 5th birthday with her new toy. Photo by Kara Hartz

From her adoption paperwork, we learned that Panther was handed in over the counter at the shelter as a neonate that required a foster to bottle feed her. So while we don’t know her exact birthdate, we know our guess is probably within a week of the real date. We picked Aug 8th in the window of likely dates for her because it is also International Cat Day.

In bigger news: when she started chemo back at the beginning of the pandemic, her oncologist said that if she survived 2 years without a recurrence, then she was cured. We assume that meant 2 years from finishing chemo, not the start. Either way, she is officially over 2 years cancer free, so it’s time to party!

books · cats

I have a new book logo

Broken Snowshoe Logo designed by Anna Hartz

My oldest just finished their first year at college and she’s still kind of searching for what she wants to be doing after school. So far, the classes they are enjoying the most are of the graphic design variety.

Years ago she drew a little logo for me to use when publishing my books. Neither of us was very tech savvy back then, so I had a cute ink drawing on paper, and just took a photo of it to use. Obviously, the quality of this technique wasn’t the best. For my birthday, they redid the logo, made it even cuter, and made it digital so it will look better and be more versatile online.

I call my own publications “Broken Snowshoe” after my cat Bob. He was a love, but had a broken spine and an amputated tail. Now, just look at it! The best.

books · Uncategorized · writing

HEA for Trans Kids book bundle

I’m excited to be a part of HEA (Happily Ever After) for Trans Kids third book bundle that is available from now until Aug 1st. This one is raising money for the Zebra Coalition that helps LGBTQ+ youth in Florida.

You can get the bundle of 13 books here for a $25 donation: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/heafortranskids-zc

You can learn about HEA and get on their mailing list for all future bundles here: http://heafortranskids.com/

And you can learn about the work that the Zebra Coalition is doing here: https://zebrayouth.org/

My short story collection “Eye of the Beholder and other stories” is included in this bundle with a bunch of other really great-sounding stories from authors I’ve admired. I just got my bundle today and will start reading tonight.

This is an exciting process for me: getting into a book bundle, and using my writing to help a charity are both things I have wanted to find a way to do for a long time now. Doing both at once is just filling me all up, let me tell ya!

crafty things · crochet

Christmas Amigurumi #3 – Fruit Bat

Amigurumi Bat by Kara Hartz

I can’t believe I forgot to show off this guy! It was a lot of work; probably the most difficult project I’ve tried so far. There are wires in all the ‘fingers’ and toes and arms and legs and it is brushed to make it fuzzy. It also uses 2 strands of yarn at a time which is not something I’ve done before and it didn’t feel natural to me.

The pattern is from Critter-iffic Crochet. While I am not a fan of having to watch a video to follow instructions, the linked video in the pattern was a life saver for understanding how the toes came together and the complicated assembly. So, due to the complexity and size, I actually didn’t finish this one in time for Christmas, which might be why I forgot to post it when I did finish it earlier this year.

Amigurumi flying fox by Kara Hartz

The kiddo who received a bag full of not quite done parts was super paitent as I completed it, and loves it now. They have gotten very into bats over the past year so this guy was worth the wait to them.

garden

Gardening on a smaller scale this year

Tomato plants

I’m still trying to grow a little garden this year but had a lot of problems with my seedlings, so I have a lot fewer plants than last year. This might be for the best since we need to conserve water more every year, and I don’t have the energy right now I would need for a more ambitious undertaking.

Pictured are my very uneven tomato plants. Obviously one is much more enthusiastic than the other. Since I got a couple volunteer plants, and we had a mouse problem that ruined most of my seedlings, I didn’t actually know what type of tomato plants these were. Now that they are starting to bloom I can tell the bigger one is a cherry tomato and the other I think will probably end up being the more Roma-style tomato I grew last year.

My cucumber [plant is doing well and has some babies growing. I haven’t been successful with cucumbers before so this is exciting.

Baby cucumbers

I tried adding other herbs to what I wanted to be my herb bed out in front of the house, and while the new plants are doing fine, the sage from last year is going nuts and I’m worried will take over, so I might have to trim it back so the rosemary has a chance.

Similarly, the patch I was just putting random flowers and veggie seeds in is being slowly taken over by catnip. The neighborhood cat likes to come sleep in it, and you can see the depression she leaves when she’s been there. That’s fun since we are trying to befriend her.

crafty things · crochet

Christmas Amigurumi 2021 #2

Wolf Link Amigurumi

So this was a more challenging project than I had anticipated. I thought I would just find a nice wolf pattern and adapt it to the colors I wanted. Well. I couldn’t find a realistic wolf pattern I liked and the color changes turned out to be challenging for me, plus Wolf Link has a bunch of other stuff going on, like the chain around the leg and the green mane-link thing happening and a lot of details and symbols on the face.

I ended up using the German Shepard pattern from Amigurume Pets by Allison Hoffman and doing my best to add the markings, color changes, mane, and shackle. Also, as you can see in the photo, the fringe around the face I just ended up using felt to add on, partly because I was afraid of messing it up and partly because Christmas is a hard deadline and I was out of time to fiddle.

The teen loved it anyway and I noticed he has a place of honor in the critter collections, so I can call this a win.

Wolf Link amigurumi side view
crochet · Uncategorized

Christmas Amigurumi #1 Bun Bun

Bunny Amigurumi

My niece has a sweet and beautiful grey bunny. A real, alive one. While I believe she likes attention, I thought it could still be fun to have a version that likes being hugged and squished and put wherever she might like, so I made a plushy version.

To save my life I cannot now find the pattern I used. I found one that was what I thought I used, but it’s a paid pattern, and I definitely used a free online pattern because I remember that the website had something blocking printing so I had to sit at my computer when I needed the next step and I had to keep the tab open for a week or so because I didn’t have the time to make it all at once. Also, I didn’t realise until I finished that the pattern didn’t include a tail so I had to improvise one becaue a bunny totally NEEDS a tail. If I can track it down I will edit this to include the pattern.

The other change I made was to use crazy bug fluffy yarn. It’s a size 7 yarn called Chinelle Home that I got at Michael’s. I wanted the bunny to be about life-sized so I used a small bunny pattern but enlarged it with a big hook and big yarn. Plus it is super soft super plush yarn. So snuggly.

writing

NaNoWriMo 2021

It’s NaNoWriMo time again.

And again, I am participating without the goal of pushing to actually reach the 50,000 word mark. Even so, I’ve started off even slower than I’d hoped. I have so far averaged about 300 words a day these first couple days. So I will push a little because I’d like to see a few 1000 or more word days even if that’s not a pace I can maintain. My other personal goal is to get some writing done every day, and so far so good on that front and really, the only reason those 300 words got written the last couple days.

So any NaNoWriMo-ers out there, I’m karabu on the website if you want to be buddies. I won’t be hard to beat, so I’ll make you look good.