Taking A Breath
Posted by Nancy Northcott Nov 26 2012, 2:06 am
Some people seem to really enjoy post-Thanksgiving shopping. They make out lists, plan the order for hitting particular stores, and approach the whole venture like an army on the march. I, alas, am not one of them, but more power to them!
I prefer to stay at home, enjoying family or catching up on reading or books and TV shows but mostly avoiding traffic and crowds. November was hectic for us. I juggled promo for Renegade (and thank you very much much to all of you who bought it and/or reviewed it or hosted me on blogs) with revisions on Protector, the novella, and Guardian, the second novel, as well as writing-related travel that couldn’t be rescheduled. I enjoyed it, but I was hopping pretty much all the time.
On Wednesday, I sent in the last of this round of revisions. With my plate officially clear, I went into iPhoto and (finally!) organized the newest pictures. Then I walked away from the computer for three days. It’s new, I love it (though I’m still figuring it out), but I was ready to be away from it for a while. I needed to take a breath and regroup. I did email on the iPad and did not sit at my desk.
Instead, I took a breather–much as I imagine those of you who conquered the stores or had big family gatherings this weekend may now need. There are lots of ways to do this, of course. We had a quiet dinner, just the three of us and one guest.
The dh had to go out of town Friday because of a death in the family, but the boy was here. I hung with him when he was home but mostly, I read. I have many, many, many books classified as TBR. I know all our regular visitors are going, “This is news?” It’s not, of course, but I did do some whittling down. Reading recharges my batteries and relaxes me, so I took a breath by catching up on series I’ve been following.
I’d been waiting for Spellfire, the conclusion to Jessica Andersen’s dynamic fantasy romance series, the Nightkeepers. It’s a worthy, twisty conclusion to a terrific series, which I won’t spoil with any details.
If you haven’t read the Nightkeepers, you can now get the whole series with no waiting. It’s about mages seeking to avert the Mayan 2012 apocalypse. The first book, Nightkeepers, features Striking Jaguar, a/k/a/ Strike, who remains my favorite Nightkeeper, and Leah, the entirely human cop who captures his heart. It’s a wonderful book and hooked me on the series.
I also read Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, the latest installment in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga. This science fiction/space opera series has won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Last year’s installment, Cryoburn, was very intense (especially the ending, which I don’t want to spoil for anyone who’s reading along but hasn’t reached that yet). This latest addition is much lighter in tone.
Anyway, I followed up Captain Vorpatril’s Honor with a chance of pace (and planet), Allison Brennan’s Stalked. It’s the fifth in her Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan series, which I’ve been enjoying. The first is Love Me to Death.
For those of you who don’t know, Lucy is a former rape victim with a master’s in psychology and wants to be an FBI agent. This book sees her in training at Quantico, but she’s pulled into a murder investigation. The pages keep turning, and the conclusion, which I reached late last night/early this morning, was very satisfying.
But it is, of course, a serial killer book. I don’t like to go to sleep immediately after finishing such books, so I watched part of Dante’s Peak, the volcano movie with Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton, replacing stalker images with explosions, flying ash and fire. Much more restful. *g*
At least I wasn’t keeping the dh awake with this reading and explosive movie viewing. The boy was gone with his friends most of the day Friday, so it was just me and the dog here, which meant I had a lot of time to read.
Saturday, he and I watched a movie we’d both been curious about, which I won’t name because we didn’t much care for it. Within the first fifteen minutes, we were jointly poking holes in it. Still, this was a fun sort of mother-son bonding, though a movie we actually liked would’ve been more engaging.
Yesterday morning, I took the boy to the airport early, so as to avoid crowds, came home, napped (gotta make up for all those explosions plus the early start), and decided to read the latest installment in another series, a novella this time (available in ebook format only, I think). Grace Burrowes’ The Courtship is a prequel to her Windhams historicals. It tracks the courtship of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland, parents to the protagonist Windhams, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I did read one other book this month–again, part of a series. The dh and I took a research trip to Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp, which we’d never seen in the fall (if anyone reading this wonders why we needed to go, it’s because the swamp figures in my Protectors series and will figure more as the series progresses). On the way down and in the hotel the first night, I read the ms. for Guardian and the editorial notes and plotted out how to approach them. Then my editor and I talked while the dh drove.
So in between jaunts to the swamp and in the car, when I couldn’t use the computer, I read Kris Longknife: Furious, the latest adventure of a spacefaring princess with a knack for getting into trouble. She also has a hunky bodyguard–whose relationship with her took a twist at the end of the last book–and an ensemble of devoted colleagues and friends.
Romance hasn’t figured much in the prior books, but it did in this one. Of course, I liked that part a lot! This series also would be best read in order. The first book is Kris Longknife: Mutineer.
Anyone who knows me can attest that I’m not Nature Girl. I like hot and cold running water, toilets, and refrigerated beverages. During our Okefenokee visit, we took one walk in the woods, during which I kept a sharp eye out for any snakes basking in warm spots on the trail and had my ears open for the mother bear and cub reputed to be back in the woods. I also took many, many photos.
Yet I found the whole trip restful. We took a sunset cruise, which involved going out into a part of the swamp with a broad vista, shutting off the boat motor, and watching the sky change. It was beautiful and peaceful and relaxing.
On the way back to the dock, it was also very cold and very dark. There are no streetlights at the visitor center. We got out of the boat and headed for the parking lot, tracking the pavement because it was white and thus showed up in the starlight. The car wasn’t even visible until we were right on top of it.
But I happened to look up. Out there, at the eastern edge of 700 square miles of wilderness, there was no ambient light to drown out the thousands of stars overhead. I don’t know how long it’s been since I saw stars that way. The city lights render all but the brightest invisible, and even the streetlights in the small town where I grew up washed out a lot of stars. In that parking lot, though, there were so many visible, they looked as though someone had flung a shaker of salt across black velvet. I could even see the Milky Way. It truly was a breath-taking view.
The next day, we explored further, and we finished the weekend with a half-day cruise that allowed us to see much more of the swamp than we had before. One highlight of that was seeing a barred owl in a tree as we went back to the dock. Our guide turned the boat in to shore so we could get a better look and better photos.
Most of the birds we came that close to fled, but the owl just sat there in its tree, even when the flash fired, and looked down at us as though to say “Did you want something?” It was amazing. As a change of scene, it also relaxed me, gave me more ideas, and let me come back to the revisions with a clearer head and better focus.
Now I’m recharged from reading, have had a break with the boy and at least part of the long weekend with the dh. I’m ready to start working again.
How was your Thanksgiving holiday? Did you travel, have company, or spent it quietly at home? Did you shop? When you need to take a breath, how do you choose to relax?