Taking A Breath

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?

Comments

45 thoughts on “Taking A Breath

  1. 1
    Helen says:

    Is he staying with me again

    Have Fun
    Helen

  2. 2
    Jane says:

    Thanksgiving was quiet. One of my cousin’s couldn’t make it, but I was happy I got to see her a few weeks ago. I actually did a little shopping on Thanksgiving day. I picked up a few stocking stuffers. I’ll be checking out the online deals today.

  3. 3
    Helen says:

    Nancy

    ‘Sounds like you have had a great relaxing breather.

    It is so nice when we all can take a breather I too like to just veg out and read at the moment I seem to be missing this I have been so busy with work and getting ready for Christmas so as I am not rushing around at the last minute I would love to take a breather this weekend maybe Sunday I can.

    As we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving I had to work on Thursday and as for shopping I did a lot of my Chrissy shopping on line excellent I still need to go to the shops this weekend but I won’t be there as long as usual now YAY.

    I am really looking forward to reading Renegade but alas it is still not available here in Australia as an e book fingers crossed that this will change soon :)

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 3.1
      Jeanne Adams says:

      Oh, Helen, you’re so smart to get it all done early! :> And you’ll enjoy a breather with Nancy’s Renegade when you get a chance for it. I loved it!

    • 3.2

      Helen, thanks. Congrats on making shopping progress. My plan is to finish as early as I can. The boy went back to school without updating his wish list, so thank goodness for email to do that!

      Thanks for letting me know you’re interested in Renegade. I’d heard it was not yet available in Australia in e-format. I’m asking the publisher where it is available, as I need to know this for purposes of giving contest prizes. I’ll post updates on my website when I know something.

  4. 4

    Nancy, what a great post. I found myself nodding along with you. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia. Our big holiday for people to pig out and get together with family is Christmas. Then our equivalent of Black Friday is the Boxing Day sales on 26th December. That is my definition of hell and I don’t care how much money I save! Pretty much all of Australia closes down between Christmas and New Year (there’s a big cricket game on, it’s summer, and there’s lots of leftovers so the emphasis is on not doing much). Most years I try to take this as the equivalent of my annual holiday and like you, I read and I watch TV and I generally just potter around. Last year, sadly I was on deadline and I missed my break. You know, I think I’ve suffered for that all year, with no exaggeration. This year, I’m hoping I get my break away from the computer and everything else. I have a large TBR pile calling to me and I intend to loll around the pool and read. Yay!

    • 4.1
      Jeanne Adams says:

      Hey Anna! I love the thought of you lolling ’round the pool reading! Grins. And like you, I avoid those crowds like the plague. Grins.

      • 4.1.1

        Jeanne, at the risk of a cliche, I think there are two kinds of people in the world – people who find crowds exciting and people who hate them. I’m in group 2! Get quite creeped out when I’m squashed in with lots of people.

    • 4.2

      Thanks, Anna! I’m sorry you missed your break last year. I need one from time to time, just a chance to hole up and read or watch DVDs. I hope this year will be better.

  5. 5
    Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    Like you Nancy, reading is my relaxing time. I did get a lot done in the house on my 4 day weekend but I spaced it out so it wasn’t all go, go, go, get it done.

    I am not a shopper by nature so most of my shopping is online. For my granddaughter my daughter and I determine where I am shopping and we chat as we trade links back and forth.

    • 5.1

      Dianna, I’m not a natural shopper, either. I go out for something specific, and I come home when I find it. Unless I’m looking for a book, in which case browsing is mandatory. :-)

      Glad you got a lot done and didn’t have to make yourself crazy to do it.

  6. 6
    Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Nancy! Love that picture of the Owl! He’s so cool and collected looking at the humans. Heehee.

    I had a great Thanksgiving, full of turkey, ham and fixings. Yum! Also had lots to celebrate as we had an engagement in the family, so there was bubbly too, to go with our turkey.

    We drove from DC to NC, though, and of course, had to come back, so there was also a lot of driving. Glad to be home in my wee houseen with my doggie-pup. And now…back to the routine. I’d love to have had some downtime to read, but I’ll get some of that at Christmas, so I’ll look forward to it!

    I’m looking forward to the NightKeepers finale. Haven’t started it yet….

    • 6.1

      Jeanne, thanks. I loved that owl. Being so close to it (10-15 ft), while it just sat there and looked at it was simply amazing.

      You spent a lot of time on the road this past weekend. I admire your stamina, but I hope you get a nice break at Christmas.

      Spellfire was great, but I won’t say more at this time. *g*

      • 6.1.1
        Jeanne Adams says:

        It’s true, I really DID spend a lot of driving time. I’m kinda feeling it too. Need to go for a long walk or run just to stretch the kinks out. :>

  7. 7
    Pissenlit says:

    It wasn’t Thanksgiving for us but I spent the Saturday with friends. We watched Wild Target, Snow White and the Huntsman and then did a rewatch of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. We decided that the first one was fun, the second one wasn’t as bad as we expected and the last one…well, how can anyone not love the Star Trek movie with the whales?

    I don’t do the shopping with the crowds but then again, our new Black Friday sales aren’t scary like the ones you guys have in the States. My friend went out to snag his mum a tablet and he said there were only two other customers in the store. :D

    Relaxing is curling up with a good book and a hot mug of tea. Speaking of books, why does this bog always try to make my TBR mountain topple over? That loveable idiot Ivan’s book is already high on the TBR but I don’t know how I feel about him finally finding someone…not that I don’t want him to…just…it changes everything. I’ve been considering trying the Kris Longknife books and the hunky bodyguard sounds promising. And now I will have to check out even more books. Poor TBR mountain. *long suffering sigh* Heh heh heh!

    • 7.1
      Pissenlit says:

      Ha! I meant this blog…not this bog. :D

    • 7.2

      Pissenlit, considering that both the dh and I read this blog over before I posted it and neither of us caught the two (not one, TWO!) typos, I think you get a pass. :-)

      I loved Star Trek IV, partly because it had so much humor in it.

      Ivan comes off well in his book. I don’t think anything in it will change his traditional role in the series, if that helps. You may also be interested to know that this book appears to predate the events in Cryoburn. I imagine you can guess which particular event I mean.

      If you want more info on the Kris Longknife series, email me privately or send me a FB message, and I’ll be glad to tell you more about it

  8. 8
    Connie Fischer says:

    Thanksgiving was BUSY! I cooked for two days and there was a lot of food. My son, daughter and two grandchildren joined us for a total of seven. We had a lovely visit and everyone ate themselves silly and then I sent food home with them. It’s so nice to have the leftovers gone and the last of the lurking crumbs cleaned up. On Saturday afternoon, I treated myself to two solid hours of uninterrupted reading in a quiet house. It was fabulous! If only I could get to do this every day. It’s my favorite thing to do to relax.

    • 8.1

      Connie, that’s a lot of cooking! I miss the big holiday gatherings of my childhood, but I now realize they were a lot of work for whichever mother hosted them.

      I hope you get that reading time. I feel a though my brain shrivels when I can’t snatch a few minutes to read now and again. I’ve been doing that at bedtime, but it’s not the same as just diving in the way I did the past few days.

  9. 9
    Janga says:

    I had a week plus a day of grand visitors. I need a week to recover since my energy level is significantly lower than the 4-13 age group.

    I’m doing most of my shopping online too. But today I’m going crazy with all the book deals, which really is nuts when I consider the number of books already on my TBR shelves–wooden and electronic.

    • 9.1

      Janga, I know what you mean about energy levels! The boy is now past the frenetic activity stage, so things are fairly placid around here.

      “Book deals,” you say? What book deals. I’m always up for a book deal, even though I, too, have many, many books waiting.

      • 9.1.1
        Janga says:

        Nancy, I’m a big mystery fan, and Open Road has 80 percent off a ton of ebooks by Dorothy Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, and Jane Langton. I bought a bunch along with some Pat Gaffney and Eileen Goudge books at prices ranging from $1,99-2.99.

  10. 10
    Deb says:

    Nancy, I always enjoy your posts. Hehe, I’m not a Nature Girl, either.

    We went to my folks’ home for Thanksgiving. It was hit and miss whether we would since Mother was in hospital just 2 days before, but she wanted to have us all there, and she did look well-rested. I will say, though, it is hard to see your parents declining in health. Long story for another time. :(

    I am not, I tell you NOT, a shopper, so I stayed away from malls on Black Friday. I did meet a cousin for coffee. I did have to go the Lowe’s to get a Christmas tree….another story. (Lots of stories in my usually boring life as of late.) Wow, there were mega crowds on Saturday!

    Relaxing can be anything from being on darned Facebook, reading, listening to music, or watching my daughter play her Kinnect games. OF course, I have to have a cup of (non-alcoholic) eggnog. LOVE that stuff!! :)

    • 10.1

      Deb, thanks for letting me know you enjoy my posts. I always have fun with them.

      I’m glad your mom is doing better. Both my parents and the dh’s are gone, and we understand how tough it is to see the bulwarks of our childhoods become frail.

      I haven’t been on FB over the holiday weekend. It doesn’t work as well on the iPad, and I wanted to be away from my desk for a few days.

  11. 11

    Wow, Nancy – you’ve been busy! You needed a little down time.

    I avoid the mall after Thanksgiving like the plague. So no shopping for me. We had company for Thanksgiving dinner so much of the preceeding week was cooking and cleaning. I spent Friday here on the blog – except for when the dh and I slipped out to see the movie, Lincoln. It was good – but the theater was packed. Obviously, a lot of people take in a matinee over Thanksgiving.

    Saturday, we went to the Ohio State Univ. tailgate and football game. OSU won (yay – go Bucks!) but it was darn cold to be sitting outside. Snow flurries through the first half and a steady wind throughout. After the game (and after a hot shower to warm up) we went to the stage production of WHITE CHRISTMAS. Very nicely done – but we came home and crashed.

    Yesterday I took down the Thanksgiving decorations and put up the Christmas ones. I finished decorating our poor overloaded tree, put away the fancy china and silverware, and made a dent in the laundry.

    I need a vacation! Maybe I’ll just grab a good book instead.

    • 11.1

      Donna, you do need a vacation! We always have to clean for company, and this tends to be a hasty endeavor since we’re not ordinarily very tidy. I sometimes put research somewhere and then cannot find it. (ducks file box thrown by Duchesse)

      At least OSU won, though! I hope the Thanksgiving gathering was fun.

      We won’t be decorating until the boy comes home next month. He asked us to wait, and since there won’t be many more years when he comes here for an extended stay, we’re doing that.

      I hope you get to curl up with that book!

  12. 12
    Cindy Sample says:

    I live in the gold country in California so holidays in old “Hangtown” are a riot. I had an author event right next to the stagecoach rides and my fan base now includes one driver and a desperado:-) Gotta love a man in chaps!

  13. 13

    Sorry for my late start today, everyone. I’d forgotten I needed to do some running around.

    If anyone wants to know more about any of these series I’ve mentioned, you can email me via the link on this site or my website, and I’ll be glad to give you my take.

  14. 14
    Beth Andrews says:

    Nancy, we had a pretty relaxed Thanksgiving break although the girls and I did hit the mall on Black Friday *g* The other days we hung out at home with my son which was the highlight of the week for me :-)

    • 14.1

      Beth, you brave soul! Even when it’s not the holiday season, I try to hit the mall at opening and be gone within an hour or so.

      I’m glad you had a good visit with your boy. I confess to watching ours through the security line, the reassembly of his possessions, and his stroll across the main concourse. We do miss him, and the dh’s visit was cut short, of course.

  15. 15
    Caren Crane says:

    Nancy, over the four-day weekend, I did as little as possible. No Black Friday shopping at all. As a matter of fact, I didn’t leave my younger sister’s house. Not even to go on the family walk! :)

    I got to see all of my children on Thanksgiving, which was wonderful, and introduce my youngest to the joys of the Greyhound bus. I have a feeling there will be more bus rides in her future, since she chose a school on the other side of the state!

    I did spend a night at my mother’s house. She has been caring for my grandmother non-stop for 5 months this go ’round and she is exhausted. I was glad to spend some low-key time with her. Altogether a wonderful and restful holiday. Well, except that my oldest sister and I stayed up talking until 3 am on Saturday… ;)

    • 15.1

      Caren I’m glad you had a low-key, relaxing holiday. Seeing relatives is always a pleasure. Especially when it’s laid back. I hope your gandmother will be better soon.

  16. 16
    catslady says:

    Thanksgiving is fairly quiet for me – I cook a large meal for only my immediate family since others thought our family was to big to all get together. I usually cook Sunday dinners for my family so it’s like that but with lots more lol. I am not much of a shopper. Today my one daughter and I went to our local mall and it was very nice and quiet lol. We didn’t get quite the deals but it was worth it not putting up with the craziness lol. Reading is how I always relax!

  17. 17
    Cassondra says:

    Hi Nancy!

    So sorry I’m late to the blog. It’s been that kind of day, unfortunately.

    I don’t shop during the Thanksgiving holiday. I stay as far away from “stuff centers” as I can, actually. Those crowds are not something I enjoy, and since I don’t like to shop anyhow, that would be a double whammy for me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten into the habit of crossing the street to the other side when I see misery coming my way, and Black Friday shopping is pure misery.

    We spent Thanksgiving in two places. One was home for the lunchtime meal with my mom and Steve’s dad. The evening meal we enjoyed with friends at their home. There was wine, and good conversation, and we always have a nice, relaxing time with them.

    I actually don’t mind cooking a big meal, as long as I don’t get thrown a curveball and have to do it at the last minute. That’s never good.

    Oh, and a recent demand of mine….”Don’t show up early and plan to hang in the kitchen while I cook, because that will distract me. Show up at the appointed time, so I can relax with a glass of wine, finish the meal gently with your help, and enjoy my time with you.”

    Unfortunately neither my mom nor Steve’s dad tend to follow that rule. They show up early, which adds to the stress.

    Still, that meant cooking for only four this year, and a chip-in for the evening, so it was a good holiday.

    The rest of the weekend, I worked. :0/ Busy time of year for me.

    I DID get to read a book. The second in the Jill Shalvis “Lucky Harbor” series. I love that series, and I’m into the third one now. So far the first is my favorite, but I’ve liked them all a lot. I just love the town and its people. I want to be able to create a world like that.

    • 17.1

      Cassondra, I loved the Lucky Harbor series. I hope you’ll enjoy it all.

      Every cook has a system, and I think that can be tough to get across to guests. There’s the “oh, that doesn’t apply to family/old friends/fellow dog people/etc.” reaction. I’m glad you had a good holiday, though.