About this time last year I made the switch from Evernote, which I’d used since it came out, to Microsoft OneNote, which is an integrated part of my Office software. After making a ‘trial run’ of OneNote to see how I could organize everything, I knew this was the better program for me. I hated to let Evernote go – they’ve been very good to me! But I just needed more than what their program offers.
imho, the worst thing about OneNote is that there aren’t a lot of templates available (although I’ve found they’re easy made), and there doesn’t seem to be much support / tips’n tricks available.
The biggest plus is that it integrates with the other Office programs – you can “print” to or from OneNote and share in the Office cloud (though I don’t use Skydrive – does anyone?). I keep my OneNote files inside my Dropbox folder – so it backs up its own backups, essentially. The program is largely intuitive. It’s easy to figure out what does what and what you can and can’t do with it. As for the lack of support et al, googling OneNote turns up what I’m looking for. I like that I can customize the interface, too. In the quickview bar, I have only the tools I use most often; everything else is tucked into the ribbon.
I have ADHD (leaning toward the Inattentive/Distractive side), so the way I organize things drives people straight up a wall. For them, it’s not intuitive or organized. For me it makes perfect sense. (I have friends who don’t like using my laptop because they never can find anything – but to me, its organization makes perfect sense)
OneNote is designed to mimic a collection of spiral notebooks, with metaphors of tabs and pages. It has six total levels of organization–notebooks, sections, subsections, pages, and two levels of subpages. OneNote also has a system of links that allow notes to contain links to other notes, or to a Web page, a Word document, or a PowerPoint presentation.
I have three notebooks. One is for all my personal stuff, one is for all my blogging stuff, and the third is for all my writing stuff. I could break the writing notebook down into three notebooks, really: writing advice, adult stuff, young adult stuff. And I might if it keeps getting more crowded in there.
Another thing about OneNote is that you can size and position the sidepanels. You can put them on the right or the left and collapse them or widen them as large as you need them to be. When you open a notebook, tabs open across the top of the display, so really you can collapse the notebook pane entirely to give yourself more workspace. As well, you can minimize the pages panel. You can also color the notebooks and individual tabs any color you like, just like a physical notebook, to help sort this into that. “Oh, that’s in the green tab.” Click! Very handy if you’re as visual as I am. One thing I don’t like is that each page and subpage (and sub subpage and sub sub subpage, ad nauseum) under a given tab is the same color as that tab. I’d like to be able to color the individual pages – that’d be awesome!
Like I said, I prefer OneNote over Evernote; it’s what works for me. OneNote gives me so many more organizing / sorting / filing options. Also, the workspace is more user-friendly – I can make everything else smaller in order to view what I need to see / work on. OneNote pastes text into blocks (similar to a text block in Word) that you can click and drag around to reposition where you’d like. If you have a lot of small elements (small text bits / pictures) on a page, this comes in handy; it allows you to put things where they’re more available to you.
Since I started using OneNote last year, I’ve dumped almost all of my writing notes into the program. Some stuff still remains on my hard drive, but bit by bit, I’m moving it all into notebooks. This is so much better to (and for) me than having endless folders with endless streams of documents. Click FAQ tab, and voila, there’s everything in a neat little row for me to pick and choose from. Even with descriptive file names, I’d find myself sitting here thinking, “Is this the file I need? Or is it this one?” I don’t have to do that any more. Less muss, less fuss – I’m all for that!
Here I’ve made a strong effort to get my ass back into blogging regularly. I’ve made a strong effort to keep up with NYNY. I try to keep up with the good news and the bad news. I’ve been busy trying to bring new stuff into the apartment – inexpensive stuff to help decorate and organize. I’ve been busy trying to get this website organized (it’s a wreck!). I’ve gotten back on a regular cleaning schedule, somewhat; it’s not as perfect as I’d like for it to be, but I’m getting there.
But I keep feeling like I keep falling flat on my ass – or flat on my face (depending upon the direction of the fall, of course!). I feel like a horse clomping toward a dangling carrot. It’s gotten to the point of taking one step forward and sliding three back.
And while I’m writing this, I’m hearing my own words, words I’ve crammed down my Gwyddon students’ throats for sixteen years, come back to bite me on the ass. Why do you keep throwing roadblocks in your way? You put them there. Get rid of them. Move on. And I answer myself back, “But it’s so hard!” After that? Well, then it’s total beat my head on the table time. Wailing, “I know better!” doesn’t fix anything, either. Neither does sitting here staring at the computer like a complete idiot. I mean, I’ve not gotten to the point of having drool drain down my chin. Yet. But still…
In Gwyddonics, we have a way of breaking down problems that allows us to find the straightest path to the best solution. It involves paper and pencil. At least to start, no metaphysical knowledge required. What is is a good understanding of the situation, how you feel about it, what you can do about it on your own, and what you can do with metaphysical help for the best outcome. So, I’ve been sitting here between thoughts and between paragraphs, writing down my table and filling in the lists with the necessary information. Next, I can either sit here and stare at this and read it over and over ad nauseum, or I can get off my ass and get the work started.
I’ve got to get off my ass, anyway. The management office is holding a party of sorts in the new clubhouse, and I need to go over there and pick up mine and Preston’s access cards so we can start using the new clubhouse and the new fitness center. While I’m gone, I’m leaving the notes I wrote beneath my (unlit) St Jude candle and will get down to the real nitty-gritty when I get back home.
[note: this is a post i wrote longhand on december 31st and am just now getting around to typing up.]
You’ll note my goals (in this post) are kind of vague. I left them that way on purpose. Why? Because I have ADD*. Because I never know how I’m going to feel or be from one day to the next. I can’t say, “I’m going to walk three miles in the morning,” because I may not feel physically or psychologically able, or Thomas might have a clinic/hospital visit.
This is why it’s so difficult for me to schedule anything. That, and I think it’s ridiculous to say, “I’m going to walk three miles in the morning,” when I might get up and manage only half a mile. After that, should I feel guilty because i didn’t meet my goal? imho, no. Realistically, you look at your life and see what you’re capable of, and that’s what you do.
This is why I don’t won’t can’t refuse to use dated and/or timed ‘planners’. They just don’t work for me. This is why I like my plain regular notebook. I can write down what absolutely must be done today (phone calls, chores, meals, etc) with things I’d like to do today. As stuff gets done, I draw a line through it. If it doesn’t get done, I rip the page out and transfer that thing to tomorrow. Etc, etc, and so on. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is what works for me. This may not work for you, and I’m okay with that. Each of us has to find our own way in the world and work with that (and what we’re capable of, as I said before).
So that’s why I went through and listed vague steps to explain how I would like to achieve my goals. Note, I didn’t say, “How I will achieve my goals.” For me, listing how just sets me up for failure. Because life, the gods, and health, and unscheduled apocalypse may have other plans for me at any given time.
The new equipment at our new fitness center is complicated, and we actually have to go over and be shown how to use it. That’s the first step. The second step is using it. This new stuff has television screens attached (and gods know what all else – I may be able to send up signals to promote ‘Free Mars‘, for all I know), so I’m hoping that will help with the ADD boredom that always ensues when exercising with machinery. People say, “Listen to your mp3 player, Mari!” But that doesn’t work. That doesn’t give my mind or my eyes something to focus on. You have to understand true ADD/ADHD to ‘get’ this. It’s like before I started the Trazadone to get to sleep at night. I’d lay there and say, “Well. I’m bored.” And Preston would say, “Mari, just shut your eyes and go to sleep!” As if it were that simple!
Also. I forgot. The clubhouse is going to be accessible by keycards once the locks and cards arrive. We have to learn how to use those, too. I think the clubhouse is going to be ‘open’ twenty-four hours; I’m not sure yet. Also have to learn how to use the equipment in the theater room. But that shouldn’t be difficult. Sixty inch flat screen tv with a 3d Blu-Ray player and three rows of stadium seating (seats either twenty or twenty-five). The business center has three touch-screen iMacs; I get to learn how to use those, too! Sometimes I go over there when I need to print something – and I’m nice; I try to at least take my own paper and print double sided when I’m able. I’ve not use a Mac since 1992. Twenty years almost! (excuse me while I step over there and feel old for a moment)
But once I figure everything out, I’d like to host a weekly or a bi-monthly writ-in at the clubhouse. November spoiled me for getting out of the apartment and for having writing buddies! I miss that so much (which means my agoraphobia is definitely better!). Even without writing buddies, I plan to use the clubhouse for ‘leaving the apartment to write’ purposes. Mommy called this ‘a change of four walls’. I also want to walk down to the Tates Creek Library now and then when the weather is cooperative and my health will allow it. Four more different walls!
Getting back on a regular cleaning schedule shouldn’t be that difficult. If I can get the laundry done Wednesday mornings, I can go home and clean something once I’m finished. I did a big clean yesterday [December 30th], but I’m not always able to clean the apartment all in one chunk like that. Thanks to my blood pressure, migraines, and my back, I have days when I just can’t bend or lift my feet. Trust me, if your blood pressure is running high, the last thing you want to do is bend over and, at the least, get dizzy, or, at the worst, trigger a migraine. Remember what I said about being realistic about knowing and working with what you’re capable of?
Doing more organization around the apartment is going to take some time. I have to figure out what works best where and in what container. I have to figure out what I need to keep and what I need to throw out donate give away. And I have to figure out what containers I need to store it all in. The pinboards at Pinterest have really helped with this by giving me some terrific storage and re-use ideas. What I need are my reusable shopping bags, a dust rag, and time to go through all of my dvds and all of my books. Then, I need a lift to Half-Price Books to unload it all.
This and in my writing are where my creativity goals also apply. Creativity doesn’t have to apply only to ‘arts’. People, including me, need to get back in touch with their imaginations and start applying those ideas again – seems like we called this ‘creative thinking’ in school. I have found so many do it yourself and how to blogs out there that it’s ridiculous; and they all have so many great ideas, but it’s impossible to follow all of them. It’s no use collecting ideas if they aren’t ever implemented. And that’s the whole point of this NYNY thing. Action. (‘more doing’, just like those commercials tell you!)
And as I write this, I realize I didn’t put anything in my goals about my faith. And I should be ashamed because one of the first things I learned as a Gwyddon (also twenty years ago!) was ‘action’ instead of ‘re-action’. So easy to say. So difficult to do! One of my students sent me a paper Thursday [December 29th] titled What I Have Learned as a Gwyddon. As a teacher, it probably wouldn’t hurt me to write something similar. There are three of us in the college now, only three active members. And right now, one of those members is without Internet access, and it’s driving us all batty. See, we’re not one of those groups who insist on everyone living in the same neighborhood and getting together face-to-face every weekend. My current students? One is in Texas, the other in British Columbia. But I’m not discussing me here, am I?
Ganesha cropped up in conversation not long ago. Now he seems to be everywhere – or maybe I’m just looking harder. I’m not surprised, though, since I already have rapport with Kali (and have had since 1998). Also, it finally occurred to my addled ADD brain (we won’t discuss how many years, okay?) that all the cranes (Gwyddon, duh!) and herons have been Manawydan fab Llŷr‘s way of trying to get my attention – and here I’ve always looked at these as omens, and I know better!
But all of this seems to be pushing me toward some kind of direction, is my point. And I’ll eventually get there. It just may take me a bit longer than everyone else, but that’s okay, too!
* it’s not adult-onset ADD; there’s no such thing. it’s like chemical depression. it’s either something you’re born with or you don’t have it.
I first encountered this on WME in 1995. When I saved it, I unfortunately removed the author’s credentials and the date she created it – and I’ve not been able to find it anywhere since. I don’t like posting posts without proper attribution, but this is too good not to share. [any spelling errors are those of the original writer’s]
I finally broke down and got a tabletop water fountain, or in this case a bookshelftop water fountain (it’s a very short bookshelf). I was running it with tap water until I could get to Kroger for a jug of High Bridge Spring water. Today I cleaned it out and poured in the spring water, and I felt like Bob Ross – What a happy little fountain! So I took a video of it, and I hope the sound comes across in it. Unfortunately I had the front patio door open, and there were kids playing outside.
Sorry I haven’t updated in forever. There really hasn’t been much to update about. So, for right now, I leave you with a joke:
If Bill Gates Wrote a Book on Wicca
The book would be called Windows to the Goddess
Iconology would be a major chapter
A revised edition would be released approximately every 6 months, without which your magik would no longer work
Your broom would crash at least once a week
Cauldrons would be called recycle bins
A Book of Shadows would be called a Folder of Magik
A free high-speed connection spell would come with every book
Every now and then your circle would collapse and you would have to perform the re-boot ritual to get it working again
If you used the more powerful NT Magik, all circles within a 5 mile radius would go down
At least once a month you would have to re-install your spells into your Folder of Magik
You would have to use a start ritual to exit your circle (and cakes and wine would only be served after a sign from the Goddess that it was safe to do so.)
Yesterday I spent from 4pm until something like 9:30pm finishing up the office. It’s fantastic in here. I packed up all my ritual and belly dance garb from our closet (where it’d been since Thomas moved in) and got it all ready to go into the wash, as well as all of my table linens; I’ll be taking all that down to wash in a bit. As I was carrying it all into the living room, all my bells jingled and tinkled. It made me very happy – almost giddy. Then I found the box where I’d stored my altar tools all this time – honestly, for real, I had forgotten what box it was in and where it was!
I took it out to the kitchen table and opened it and set everything out – and put what needed to go / what could go into the dishwasher. It’s all set up now minus the altar cloths (they’re in the wash). And in that box I found the mugwort bundle I thought I’d lost or had otherwise used up and had tossed out. I’m fairly certain I did The Sims happy dance when I found that mugwort!
So here after I get the laundry done and all the garbage (three bundles) and all the recycling (five bundles (not counting the collapsed cardboard boxes)) down to the dumpsters, I’m going to give the house another physical clean. Then I’ll give it another metaphysical clean paired with a nice, deep smudging.
I first encountered this on WME in 1995. When I saved it, I unfortunately removed the author’s credentials and the date she created it – and I’ve not been able to find it anywhere since. I don’t like posting posts without proper attribution, but this is too good not to share.
Several days ago, The Ferrett blogged about worldbuilding. He asked, at the end, “If you’re a writer, how do you worldbuild?” The post and the question, of course, got my mind going. It just so happened that at the same time I was reading his post, I was also cruising Google StreetView because I needed to see what the six miles between Hensley Store and Martins Fork Lake look like. (It’s been three years since I’ve been there.) Because while I was doing all this, I was also working on notes and such for Midnight that our critique group had turned in.
It’s the ADHD. I’ve always done this. Three or four tasks at a time. I have to say, though, the Prozac has made this more bearable and more organized.
Worldbuilding is a bit different for me. I use a place that actually exists for my setting. Harlan County, Kentucky. I’ve just given it my own overlay and made it a place where vampires are real. And I created histories, laws, and rituals for these people. I have a link above to the HVSWiki, and I hope to find the time to put the information I’ve compiled online.
Now I have to be honest and admit that I didn’t have complete histories, laws, or rituals until July of this year. I’ve been tinkering around in this ‘alternate Harlan’, as Preston calls it, for ten years now. My writing is really organic. I’ve learned most things as I’ve gone along. More so during these exhaustive rewrites I’ve been doing on the three books for the past three years. Until I figured things out and learned who people were, I didn’t need nor could I create these histories. And are they tangled, let me tell you. Spider webs make more sense in places. I’ll put it this way. I didn’t even know for sure who Sami (my main character) was until I got near the end of the first draft of book two in 2006. The shock was as great for me as it was for her, I’m sure. But now she has a family and family history reaching back to early Devonshire UK.
The laws weren’t that difficult. Now, these are the laws for Anethdraeg, the vampire Family. I’ve not gone around messing with Kentucky law to warp it to fit my ‘alternate Harlan’. I had mentioned some of these laws off-hand near the end of Midnight, then here and there in the sequels. I just had to go through and pick them out and clean them up. What are they? Where did these laws come from? I would like to take credit for creating these laws out of thin air all on my own. But I can’t. They’re a mishmash of the original 1991 Vampire: The Masquerade laws and The Black Veil of the ‘real vampire’ community. I took what I needed and came up with names, definitions, and descriptions that fit the Harlan Vampire Series universe.
Here is an example of Anethdraeg law:
Donor – vampires feed only from well-informed, consenting non-vampire donors. We must feed only for the sake of satiating the hunger and must never give in to addiction. The Elder is the exception to this law as he requires feeding from his advisers and other vampires.
Discretion – this is the respect all vampires have for himself and for his Family. Private disputes and similar concerns shall never be discussed out among the public. A vampire chooses with the utmost of care with whom he will share the knowledge of his true nature. And those people must be wise and mature enough to understand and respect what he is.
Respect – implies specific actions and conduct representative of the feeling of positive regard for a person or an entity. Unless a vampire brings harm or dishonour upon himself or upon the Family, all are to respect that individual’s choices and decisions. Give respect, therefore, to those who have earned it.
Haven – is a refuge, a sacred safe place where the Family comes together for ritual worship, socializing, and seeking the advice of their Elder. The sanctity of our Haven shall be respected and shall never be violated.
Only we define and control who and what we are. By our own free will, we choose to obey the Laws of this Family so that we shall live well upon this earth.
These Laws were given to us of old for our well-being and are not meant to be a burden. In keeping with the nature and ways of our times, we shall change those Laws which no longer apply and shall create new Laws when they are needed.
Creating rituals was simple enough. I’ve walked a Pagan path since I was ninetten, and with my ‘Gwyddon Druid Degree of Goodness’ comes my ritual creation +5 skill. So I put it to work – in Michael’s shoes. If I were a Pagan with roots in Devonshire, how would I do things? I decided, “probably not much different from a Welsh Gwyddon. I made a list of what I needed – not much (a ritual grimoire containing a brief outline of the Anethdraeg ritual practices and four rituals to encompass their Full Moon celebrations) – and went from there. The ritual body I created is, in all likelihood, very useable provided one researched, used, and fully understood the Welsh lore behind it. Same with the method of magic Sami employs. Her metaphysics is the same blend of personal, intuitive magics and Gwyddonics that I use, which is probably a whole other blog post on its own (minus the Gwyddon bits, which are up for discussion only with other Gwyddons. sorry).
The Time period came easily enough. I wanted Sami to live in the same Harlan County I had, starting in 1995. I moved to Loyall in October, Sami in September. But then, near the beginning of book two, I hit a snag. I mention this in my authors notes btw. I sat down to read the Lexington Herald-Leader and saw that Central Baptist Hospital had a plan to build a new campus across the interstate from Hamburg between Man O’War Boulevard and Winchester Road. Construction was supposed to start last year and hasn’t yet. So I had a bit of panic as I tried to figure out what to do.
See, I can write about a place better if I can visualize it. So much the better if I’ve been there before. Since I have been in and out of CB for various reasons over the last twelve years and can see it eyes open and closed, and due to the course of the story, I needed to use the hospital as I knew it. Yes, I even downloaded floorplans from the hospital website. The logical choice was to back up my entire timeline by ten years. Not as easily accomplished as I’d hoped. It screwed up clothing, hairstyles, cars, music, and electronics for starters. Gone were Stone Temple Pilots and Sami’s computer! Instead of her arriving on Steve’s doorstep in 1995, she arrived in 1985. This meant Jeremy lost his boxy Crown Victoria and Michael lost his Sebring. But one does what one must do. This also meant I had to make a ton of telephone calls back home to poke and prod my in-law’s memory. Was that store there then? Did it have the same name? What was it called? Who owned it? When did the bypass go in? When was the mall built? When did Loyall Elementary School shut down? Endless, endless questions.
When I write, I start with a character and a dilemma. Not much else. Then I do the equivilent of getting to know my neighbor. Hello. How are you? Where does your husband work? Where do you go to church? This is the Kentucky way of learning who knew people are, so those are the natural questions. The rest flows from there. And this is going to sound like a real stretch to some people, but my faith takes into account reincarnation. Our view is a bit different from anything else I’ve seen, and I won’t go into that here. I got Sami’s and Steve’s full names from my last life. I borrowed their names, not their stories. Jeremy’s name came from liking the name; his last name came from the 1997 Harlan County telephone directory.
Michael was a bit moe complex than that. I guess. It depends on how it’s looked at, I suppose. Michael’s name, look, and the good side (yes, he does have one!) of him are based on a real person I met here in Lexington in 1996, although he wasn’t six-and-a-half feet tall like Michael Devon. He didn’t have a last name until toward the end of the second book when I realized he didn’t have one and he needed one. But for Michael I didn’t want a common Kentucky name. I wouldn’t know it until later, but Michael wasn’t Kentuckian. (We all already knew he wasn’t common lol!) I researched uncommon names in Kentucky in the late 1800s. I found one Devon family in Louisville for that time period. For the name to be that uncommon was perfect. And I can’t remember exactly what it was about ‘Devon’ that stuck with me, but it did, and I refused to let it go.
Place names took care of themselves; afterall, my setting is a real place. All I need are a map and photographs. Oh, and my cell phone. In case I need to call home and ask questions. Again. Business names were a bit different. I changed a couple. Loyall Texaco, which has been in operation since the 1930s became The Market. Belk Simpson at the mall became Preston & Bianchi – although that last I’m still not happy with and am searching for an alternative. Most people are surprised to learn that Dairy Hut is a real place.
It is. See?
Parks and bodies of water also took care of themselves and are all real places and things.
Which brings me around to music. In Eventide and Midnight music makes appearances, more so in the first. Eventide was fun in that it takes place from 1959 to 1966 (research for this one was marvelous!). I got to explore some wonderful music. There’s more than one scene where Michael and Laurel dance along with the radio in his kitchen. In Midnight, Sami often has music playing in the background. At one point, she and Jeremy are listening to records in his bedroom, and she asks to hear one of his Stix albums.
Last but not least. Photographs. I have a digital collection of 600 pictures taken within Harlan County. This doesn’t include my 100 pictures taken in Corbin (in Whitley County), the 60 of/around/at Cumberlan Falls (near Corbin), or the 75 of Cumberland Gap (in Bell County). These pictures come in handy when I can’t remember what something looks like. You know, for the minute details. Like I have it stuck in my head that O’Neil’s Funeral Home in Corbin was either built out of white brick or was painted white. It isn’t. The building is and always has been red brick. I also have some Google StreetView captures I use for reference, such as this one I grabbed a few days ago. I needed to know what this section of road looked like.
Too, things look so different season to season. Shadows change, as does the quality and quantity of the light. Things also look different depending upon the weather. A Harlan drenched in rain, with or without fog, is a different Harlan from the one drenched in sunshine (in the places where sunlight actually reaches). The angle of the sun and moon do shine in a given area is important.
Oh. One more thing. I create houseplans. I used to do this with typing paper, a pencil, and a ruler, but thanks to graphics programs, I can now do this on my laptop. I do this for good reason. So I can trace the path characters walk. So I don’t have someone turning right off a stairway on page 6 and then have them turning left off that same stairway on page 298. It also helps if I have a small map of, say, Sami’s or Michael’s property so I know what sits where in relation to everything else.
I think that’s everything. I’ve probably left out half of what I meant to write about. If anyone reading this has questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments, and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. This post will probably end up being a permanent page on the site somewhere.