Monday, September 29, 2008

Spend Less Month

This is off topic from what I want my blog to be about (my journey to finish and, hopefully, publish a fantasy novel), but this is a big part of my life for the next month so I'm going to include it.

I'm declaring October Spend Less Month. I read about it on Small Notebook and an MSN article. I have a former co-worker/friend who does a "No Spend" month from time to time. I'm not that hard core. That I'm not concerned about spending in general. It's a tool, I just want to understand how I use it.

We don't spend more than we make. As a matter of fact, we save a decent amount each month. That being said, we spend sooo much. I always joke that we are single-handedly making sure the economy keeps chugging because of all the crap we buy.

The Challenge:
We are going to limit ourselves to $400 on all non-gas and non-revolving bills.

The (Hopeful) Results:
I want to be more aware of my relationship with money. I'm very lucky for the resources that I have, but I think that if I go on a one month "money diet" of sorts I will appreciate those resources so much more. And might be less tempted to use them on a whim.

The Reward:
At the end of the month we are going to look at our credit card bill (to get points we put everything on the credit card and then pay it off at the end of the month) and see how much less we spent than the month before. We are going to take that money and invest it, but I'm not sure where. We will figure that out at the end of the month.

Honestly, we are pretty good on keeping the revolving bills down. We run the AC/Heat at the minimum needed. We don't have cable. Paid off the car. Don't buy large items that we really don't need (ie--still no flat screen TV). Our problem is the accumulation of all the little things. Dinner out. Lunches out. Starbucks. Clothes. Crappy little things that we end up throwing away. The line between wants and needs can get real blurry at times, especially if you can afford it.

$400 for food, entertainment, and impulse buys for two people during the course of a month isn't that drastic. Many families of 4 do fine on that. Some of them do it on much less. I'm sure some people are going to be reading this and thinking that I'm melodramatic, but you have to start somewhere! Growing up my family was very frugal. We didn't even buy boxed cereal because it was too expensive (instead mom made homemade oatmeal). Pete's family had to be frugal as well, although our families picked different things to be frugal about. I'm sure that we have the tools and integrated habits to break our new spending habits that we've developed over the past couple years. I'd rather start trying now rather than in a few more years when we add a little "plus one".

I got buy-in from Pete this morning when I told him that he could buy his new computer (that he's been eying for almost a year, waiting for the price to drop) if and only if he agreed to the $400 Spend Less Month. He and I have the same primary concern: socializing. We go out to eat with friends. It's our thing.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions for less expensive entertainment ideas?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Over It

I had a bad day at work and I just feel sooo over it. Gotta suck it up and keep working. :(

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

Wrapping up another busy weekend.

Friday the hubby and I went out to celebrate my bday. I got ready at work so that he could pick me up and not see me get ready. I do that about once a month during the nicer months. We went out to the Fondue restaurant called Gejas, that I absolutely love, but it's kinda expensive. Made for a very nice evening.

Saturday I had class and then after I went to the Field Museum with some friends. After doing a little homework for my Monday class, we went out to dinner to my favorite dinner called Nookies (I love the oxymoron of eating at a diner in the middle of Chicago). Ran into two groups of people that we knew, which was awesome because it made me feel like I was starting to know people around the city (I've been here about a year and a half).

Today I had some more filming and then went to watch a friend's Flag Football game. Went out for beers after as is customary for sporting events. We were going to make sushi over at the condo, but Pete is really sick so we went out for sushi instead.

So where was the writing in all that? That's the problem. Not counting lunch on Friday, there wasn't any. Also didn't do any work for my work side project. On the plus side, I met a CP on this great website and she gave some great feedback for my first five chapters (which are very small and is the word count of a normal chapter). However, I hope to have my first five chapters fixed by Thursday of this week and the second five ready to go for Thursday of the following.

I'm actually going to do my own NaNoWriMo Lite which will be to write those afformentioned 20k. Also means that I want to be done with revising my current set before November.

Is anyone else planning on doing NaNoWriMo? What do people usually do if you are on a project with NaNoWriMo rolls around?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Actually, it's a happy belated birthday. The big 2-6 was on the 16th.

First, an announcement. I've picked a title for my novel: Prophecy's Tool. And a sad fact. I had to cut a 2k work scene that wasn't doing anything for the plot line. :( Back down to 19.5k. I hope to get it back to 20k again by EOD.

On to the main topic of my blog. I'm a huge resolution fan. One of my favorite quotes is: "If you don't know where you're going, you won't know when you get there." Does anyone else set birthday resolutions or is it just me?

Here are my resolutions:
* Lose 10 pounds
* Begin an exercise routine
* Eat more healthfully

* Socialize at least 3x a week
* Write at least 100 words a day
* Finish Prophecy's Tool in 6 months

* Take enough classes to be enrolled in my last semester by my next birthday
* Eat in 3x a week (might be contrary to the socialize one)
* Save 2k a month
* Get out of all debt (really don't have much) (not counting mortgage)

* Once webisodes are done, audition at least once a month for new movies/plays
* Finish the website for AnyGift (long story)

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Do My Own Stunts

I do my own stunts and have the bruises to prove it.

I'm in a web-isode that will start airing in weekly online web shorts (5ish minutes) staring in a couple months. Over the weekend we filmed the first couple months worth of episodes. In one scene my charector is breaking in through a window. So I had to break in through a window...about 20 times. Windows have ledges to keep the rain out. I slid down that ledge. Ouch. I have these horible looking bruises all up and down my left leg, but really only on the top and only on the left one.

Anyhoo, the filming was soo much fun. I think I did a passable job, but I've gained like five pounds over the past six weeks from eating bad food, which was a problem since I was suppose to be playing at 17 yo, but that's okay. I think I only looked a little older than I was suppose to. The other actors were awesome. Lots of talent. I can't wait for it to go live.

Writing is going pretty well. I have a potential CP. She sent me her stuff on Friday and I just sent over my first few K. I'm so excited. My book really feels like it's starting to come together.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The first goal has been reached! I'd like to feel accomplished, but that's only 1/5 of my word count and the majority of it is in glorified outline form. Three very important transitional scenes are simply a couple lines of very rough description of what ought to occur. This is especially problematic because I'm in first person because I think it's fun to be that deep in a character's head. Problem is, I need to be deep in her head without losing the action.

This is why novel writing is so hard and why it's so fun.

Each scene will be a prompt. I am going to write about all the description of the scenery. How she feels. Maybe I'll write how someone else feels and then translate that to my POV character seeing it. From there I will take the paragraph and scatter it through out the scene either directly or indirectly.

I think that exposition gets a bad rap from authors mis-using it. The classic info dump, while exposition by definition, is not exposition by good utilization. Exposition when sprinkled throughout a scene in tiny chunks can add to voice, setting, and scenery in ways that direct dialog cannot.

Monday, September 8, 2008


My muse is all rested and I'm ready to begin again. I read (devoured) the Kushiel's Legacy most recent book, Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey over the weekend. Got me all inspired to get back to work. I also read Thief with no Shadow by Emily Gee.

I'm currently sitting at 18k words. I have class tonight out in Schamburg. It will take me about two hours my public transportation to get there. I plan to work on my book while in transport.

I'm going back to finish my degree. I had class on Saturday too. My good friend, Becky, has a boyfriend who just moved to Chicago about a month ago and he was in my class. So random. Nice to not be the only college-aged kid sitting there. I was a bit worried about sitting in class with a bunch of 18 year olds. That being said, I believe that most of the people in that class were non-traditional, as you might expect with a Saturday class.

Also, this weekend, I had my first rehearsal for this web-isode by Avalon Film Works. Despite just complaining about being an "Old Student" I'm playing the part of a 17 year old. Great script. Great cast. I think I'm the only non-pro/semi-pro actor. There's a benefit to looking a decade younger than I am. I'll post the link to that site once it goes live.

Yes, I like being crazy busy. It keeps me productive. Goal is to be to 20k words by Wednesday.

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