Hitting my stride

An April 2023 wrap up

Where March was a start in establishing routines again, April left me feeling like I was starting to make some progress. I found myself also doing a lot of planning and scheduling and I would hit days where I was productive in one thing, then take a time to break to rest and get back at it. I’m still not back at the pace and productivity I was pre- cancer and COVID-19, but I’ve achieved more for April than any other month for the last few years. And it’s only going to get better as my health improves and my routines become more familiar.

Once you’re in the habit of writing regularly some great things happen! J

It Starts With Us (#2 It Ends With Us), Rebel (#4 Legend), The Glory of the Empress (#2 Admiral), Trust in Me (#1.5 Wait for You), The Taking of Jake Livingston, Finding Perfect (#2.6 Hopeless), Fault Tolerance (#3 Chilling Effect), Stolen (#0.5 Taken), Neon Zero (#0.5 Neon), In the Heart of the Fire (#1 Nameless), Feast of the Swamp Goblin

This month I managed to read 11 books and I was aiming for higher, but I hit a mini-slump while reading ‘Fault Tolerance’ (#3 Chilling Effect,) and getting sucked into my re-watch of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ from season 1. I think the number of books is artificially bolstered by 5 novellas.

I managed to finish off 4 (possibly 5, depending if the ‘Chilling Effect’ franchise is going to venture past a trilogy) book series this month. Most of my reads were new purchases to complete series I’d already started, so there were only 5 off my #BeatTheBacklist goals. I even read e-books – which is not common for me. I tend to favour physical copies.

My book buying ban is still in place with no new purchases in this month – all the new books are still from the Christmas presents I obtained with gift cards, or free from Amazon Prime when I signed up years ago and have never gotten around to reading. I’m trying to make an effort to get through some more e-books each month.

My TBR has come down to 296 from 303

I am giving myself a huge pat on the back – I completed the first draft of my Aussie outback romance novella. It turned out longer than I anticipated and was way more fun to write. All of this repressed knowledge from growing up in Alice Springs (around where the novella is set) and desert survival skills came into play. And I felt like my humour was popping up in all the right places. I’ll sit this aside for a few months before my next pass to give it some fresh eyes.

There was hope I would get to complete a contemporary novel that I was over half-way through before I started chemotherapy and had to stop, but because my word count on the novella was much higher than I was aiming – and the amount of time spent ran over, I had a less number of days to tackle this novel. But I managed to get a little done and will carry it over into May. I’m hoping the first draft will be completed next month.

I spent a chunk of April organising and scheduling my writing and blogging time – drafting out articles and daily wordcounts. As a result I have the entire rest of 2023 blogs planned and am aiming for at least another 5-6 first drafts of novels/novella for the year. After years of little or no productivity, my health and enthusiasm returned, I’m aiming for as many first drafts to be completed this year (so I can feel like I’m actually getting some work done) and then complete 2nd and final drafts and put them out for submission near the end of the year, or in the first half of 2024.

There have been some great new shows to indulge in for April, but after a huge viewing month in March, I wanted to pull back a little and make sure I’m keeping my time productive.

Grease : Rise of the Pink Ladies, Not Dead Yet, Schmigadoon (Season 2), Shadow and Bone (Season 2), Star Trek : Picard (Season 3), Star Wars : The Mandalorian (Season 3), Outer Banks (Season 3), and Gotham Knights.

Loved Season 2 of ‘Shadow and Bone’ – though I can see how they are trying to stretch out the ‘crows’ storyline for another season and connect those characters to Mal and Alina… it wasn’t as smooth as I’d like. But I’m really excited for the musical series ‘Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies’ tackling surprisingly current social political issues in something set in the 50’s. Plus the singing is absolutely fantastic with numerous powerhouse performances. Totally lives up to the legacy of the original film.

Re-watching Seasons of ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ I stopped watching this over ten years ago because of a housemate that hated the show, and I really miss it. So I’m starting from the beginning and plan to get up to date in the coming months. The drama! The blood and guts! I have to be careful not to lose a day indulging.

Movies: Murder Mystery 2, Shazam : Fury of the Gods, 65, Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Ghosted, and re-watched Edge of Tomorrow.

I have to say the stand out was ‘Ghosted’ – the cameos, the humour, I loved it! And still a fan of the Marvel movies and enjoyed how ‘Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ kicked off Phase 5 of the MCU. I really hope we get more Ant-man and the Wasp in the future, they are one of my favourites in the franchise.

This month the initiative to reconnect with friends is going great. It gives me warm fuzzies inside to catch up on our lives and share experiences again. There is so much going on in our lives and I’m thankful to still be able to share with them like we are sitting around the lounge with a cup of tea or glass of wine. There’s even preliminary talk of arranging a reunion towards the end of the year given we are all scattered across the continent.

I’m trying to build relationships with fellow bloggers, but they don’t tend to engage after a quick response to a comment or question. I might have to shift to a different medium if I want to be a part of, and build a community. Bloggers either seem to be time-poor or only interested in their statistics… maybe that’s a presumptuous blanket statement, but it’s been my experience so far.

Or if you want to recommend any great blogs that centre around reading and writing comment below!

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Conquering the reading slump.

What to do when nothing in your TBR interests you.

I’ve had times when I’ve hit a rough patch with my reading – where I just can’t get into anything and immediately start to stress a little. But I’ve found a few little tips that have nipped that anxiety and disinterest for reading in the bud.

The most obvious thing is – don’t stress. It’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. It might mean that you need to take a short break from reading and recharge your batteries. Visit the beach, walk in nature, play with puppies. There are times when eyestrain and an overworked brain simply refuse to assimilate anymore reading and a short vacay from words has always done the trick.

For the times when every book I pick up just seems boring? Yes there have been times this has happened. I read blurbs to see something that will grab my interest and if it doesn’t draw me in in the first chapter or two, that’s fine, I return it to the shelf and hunt for another. There used to be something in my brain that wanted to finish every book I picked up and started to read: even if I hated it. But now I have worked past that and am happy to peruse until something clicks. You can re-visit those abandoned books another time… or if they keep refusing to pique inspiration maybe it’s time to unhaul them.

Read an old favourite. Sometimes it pay to indulge in the familiar. Pick up a book that you know you enjoy. It’s like muscle memory triggering the pleasure sensors in your brain, reminding you that you love reading. It might also inspire another book you’ve been keen to pick up.

Pick up a favoured author or an auto-buy author; one you are confident in that you’ll love their work. It’s always gotten me out of a jam.

Start a conversation about your favourite books with another book lover. Excitement is infectious and once you start sharing your passion with someone else it can ignite that delight for reading again.

Browse books – either in your own collection, the library, online, a friend’s house… getting out of the familiar and exposing yourself to something new may kick in that interest again.

But what if its required reading, something for school or work and you just can’t? I’ve faced this many times. The way I’ve gotten around it is to speed read a chapter and then write a short summary: you get all the main plot points and don’t have to indulge in the prose. Or grab a study buddy and start a game – treat yourself with a different type of candy whenever a character does something boring, or make a drinking game out of finding a word in the prose, or –my favourite, read aloud in a funny accent and try and make someone else laugh. Maybe explain the book to your dog?

The main crux of the issue is to remain flexible, creative, and don’t let stress or anxiety put you off!

Do you have any tips for getting out of a reading slump? I’d love to take on any new ways of that apathy over reading…

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MARCHing into 2023

The first quarter for 2023 and things did not go according to plans because of that bloody virus

All of January, and half of February, was spent in bed fighting off a moderate-to-severe case of COVID-19. Talk about being infirm and leaking from all orifices! March brought with it the promise of starting to make progress towards my goals (even if it was 2 months too late. *shrug*) But I’m not putting pressure on myself this year – I’m more concerned with building up consistent habits… the goals will then sort themselves out. Only because I’m guilty of putting in 110%, going hard, and burning out quickly; maybe I was a shooting star in a previous incarnation?

Book worm:

What I read in March: 13 Books!

TBR 314 down to 311

No. of series completed: 5

I really feel like I’m starting to get places with finishing off series that I have started – or where the debut (of entire series) has been sitting on my TBR shelf for years. Does anyone else do this… I have book 1 in so many series, but never bought the following sequels – the OCD in me is meshugasing!

No. of books off my #BeatTheBacklist initiative: 6

I was hoping this would be higher, but, as stated above, did not own the rest of the books in series, so am having to purchase the rest to finish reading the franchise. (My poor bank account is not happy.) It’s throwing off my estimation to how long it will take me to significantly reduce my TBR shelf because as many titles as I choose to read in a given month, I have to purchase nearly the same amount of books to complete book series… but I am enjoying the journey! THIS BOOKWORM WILL WIN!

I’ve been making a concerted effort to continue reading widely. I’m predominantly a mood reader and consequently find myself getting stuck in a certain genre at times. So contemporary romance and fantasy generally get pushed to the back of the line (and is also the most number of books on my TBR shelf.) I think I also want to get in some more horror, mystery, and non-fiction… that’s my aim for April.

Maybe Someday (#1 Maybe Someday), Maybe Not (#1.5 Maybe Someday), Maybe Now (#2 Maybe Someday), This Winter (#0.5 Solitaire) Nick and Charlie (#1.5 Solitaire), A Lady for a Duke, Wait for You (#1 Wait For You), The Red Scrolls of Magic (#1 The Eldest Curses), Flashtide (#2 Flashfall), Mount Buggery to Nowhere Else, Oaths of Legacy (#2 The Bloodright Trilogy), Vows of Empire (#3 The Bloodright Trilogy), Into Deep Space (#2 The Galahad Archives), A New Life (#3 The Galahad Archives)

Scribe and scribble:

I have been determined to complete writing an Aussie Outback romance novella this quarter…. Instead of word count to motivate me, I’ve been focusing on completing a scene a day to get me started and back into the habit of writing every day. It seems to work better than focusing on the word count. Admittedly, I kept letting myself get distracted and didn’t spend as much time writing as I wanted to. I need to value my writing time better if I want to reach my goals. But it has gotten me back into habitual routines of writing – which was the point of gently reintroducing myself back into writing. I’ll definitely have a first draft completed by the end of next month. Then I’m also looking forward to jumping back into a contemporary I was halfway through before the whole cancer and COVID thing happened.

Has anyone sat down to write and then suddenly found themselves working through a chore list of housecleaning and not known how they got there? Like what happened I was meant to be writing!

One of the distractions I had this month when I should have been writing was plotting out another novella. I’ve loosely mapped out a series of interconnected contemporary romance novellas following different characters in the same town but there is an overarching plot that brings them all together. I’m already halfway through the first novella from the series and wanted to plot out the second… even though I won’t get to writing it for some time because I’ve committed myself to finishing off several other projects first. It’s disgraceful how many writing projects I have waiting in the sidelines. But I’m all about finishing off manuscripts this year!

Does anyone else have a stack of new book ideas that keep distracting them? It happens to me all the time but 2023 is the year of finishing off manuscripts otherwise I’ll never get published. When I thing of writing this meme comes into my mind:

Work that body:

March saw me beginning to complete small exercises. My lungs aren’t fully recovered, but it won’t take long the Doctor has informed me. I started doing 20 mins of elliptical training followed by a 20 min stretch and warm-down. The stretches are very important because of an old back injury… and being bed-ridden for so long the pain has started to flare up again and I don’t want to be reliant on pain killers to get through the day. Sitting and writing for extended periods of time does not help, I’m constantly breaking up my day with little chores and walks (or going silly with the dogs) to keep movement in my body. I can see proper workouts coming in the near future and looking forward to feeling fitter and healthier (and hopefully a few more kilos lighter.) By the end of the March I was getting in a full hour of exercise and a 20 min warm down. Completing 7km on the elliptical. I’m really proud of the progress. Especially with some Long COVID symptoms poking their head up. Issues with my lungs and exhaustion have been a big obstacle in me getting active again. But I finally feel like I’m back to normal again.

Social Butterfly:

Getting sick, and being immune-compromised meant that I had to self-isolate for Jan and Feb. By the time March came around I was back on my feet and able to get in a grocery shop solo. I got to catch up with old friends from my hometown in January before I fell ill, but I’ve been a bit gun-shy to pull the trigger and venture out to social gatherings. (What a wuss!) The memory of the pain and fear I experienced fighting the virus is still fresh in my mind. Plus we had a heatwave for most of March so I stayed indoors with the air-con. All of my social activity has been online… not quite the point of this goal, but it’s a forward step. Health first, then I can let my social butterfly free.

March is also my birthday month – which I didn’t really celebrate. I think I’m turning into an uber-introvert! Gah! Help!

What I watched in March:

Star Trek Picard, The Mandolorian, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Wolf Pack, The Equalizer, Class of ’07, Poker Face, Not Dead Yet, School Spirits, True Lies, The Last of Us, The Night Agent.

I wish there was some more quality Aussie content. Last month ‘Colin from Accounts’ was great, and this month ‘Class of ’07’ was hilarious… I need more shows like this please! I’m lining up season 2 of ‘Under the Vines’ for April.

Most of the shows were complete seasons, or wrap-up this month with the exception of a few, so I’ve also got some new shows lined up for April. But my favourite this month has to be ‘The Night Agent.’ I was shouting and doing karate chops in the lounge when watching this.

A Man Called Otto (made me cry), Status Update (a bit of musical fun and silliness to lift your mood)

Still finding that I’m not spending a lot of time watching films. I think in trying to manage my time better, I’m not spending as much of my downtime viewing content – I’m reading instead. And when I do choose to watch something an episode of a tv show is only around 45 mins instead of 180 mins for a film means I get in my viewing pleasure for less. And more time to sleep J But of the two films I did get to watch ‘A Man Called Otto’ had me crying nearly all the way through… it’s beautiful but sad.

So a bit of a fumbling start to 2023, but I feel like I’m starting to gain some momentum. Next quarter should show double the growth! I’ve omitted some categories of my goals in this wrap-up because it was all about getting healthy again and not taxing myself too much.

Has anyone else struggled with COVID-19? Most of my friends and family have reported that it was just like a cold that stuck around for a week. My experience was vastly different and wonder if I was an outlier, or if there are others out there in the blogosphere that has a hard time getting through? Did you also get post COVID-19 symptoms? I’ve been losing a lot of hair (shedding) and get lung pain.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race.

A February 2023 wrap up

With January wiped off from suffering with a moderate-to-severe case of COVID-19, it carried over through February, but at least the symptoms were much milder and I was able to feel like I was achieving something. Though, admittedly, I’m still not at 100% but the Doc assured me things will be back to normal in March… I just have to start getting my body used to activity again after being sedentary for an extended period of time. Nothing new for me; I know the drill, and look forward to getting back to the point where I can get in a gym workout.

This month I managed to read 7 books; it should have been much higher, but ‘The Raven King’ put me in a bit of a slump. This makes 3 series completed, 3 books off my TBR shelf (the rest were purchased with gift cards from Christmas presents, mainly to buy the rest of books in series I was part-way through.)

TBR 310 down to 303.

As for writing, I was concentrating on a single project – a romance novella as I’m just getting back to writing after some serious time off (thanks a bunch cancer and COVID, don’t come back) and managed to get 5,000 words on paper and spent a good chunk of time reviewing the plot and making sure the pacing was working in the first two chapters I’d already written (plus some light editing) to get my head back in the ‘space.’ Not a great achievement for me, but it’s a start!

Because February is more of a ‘light duties’ month, and I’m only just starting to get back into the swing of things, it was important not to go full throttle and burn myself out. So I would limit my work time and catch up on some viewing pleasure. There was a months backlog of shows I wanted to watch/catch up on since I was so sick/sensitive to light in January. I think this is the most amount of screen time I’ve indulged in for years.

Wolf Pack, The Witcher : Blood Origin, Kleo (Season 1), Mayfair Witches, Chucky (Season 2), The Good Doctor (Season 6), 9-1-1 Lone Star (Season 4), Bump (Season 3), Nancy Drew (Season 1-3), His Dark Materials (Season 3), The Mosquito Coast (Season 3), RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 15)

Rewatched Seasons 1-4 of Stranger Things

Movies: M3gan, Shotgun Wedding, Knock at the Cabin Door, We Have a Ghost,

I’m starting to become more active online too, but again limiting my time to avoid burnout (or doom-scrolling) I’ve started out reconnecting with my friends, and reading other blogs and reviews randomly, but I’ve noticed there doesn’t seem to be a lot of activity on the things I follow (some for quite a while – I guess the pandemic affected a lot of people in many different ways.) So in March I’m looking to engage more and discover new blogs/content… so watch for the wrap up of that month to see what I discover. Though there was an interesting discussion on censorship and book banning in the US which could start to have repercussions worldwide if it gains traction. Post by PagesUnbound.

Or if you want to recommend any great blogs that centre around reading and writing comment below!

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

All the things that happened in January 2023!

I was so ready to charge in 2023 with a war cry! I had scheduled a lot of posts in advance last year so I could hit the ground running. Productivity!

We got a surprise visit from some old friends in the first week of January which was a delight and I got to go out and about to all the tourist and shopping spots for the first time since the 2020 lockdown. Being immunocompromised I’ve been careful; and with the news reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases on the Sunshine Coast, I was abhorred to find only one other person was wearing a mask. I got brushed up against by sweaty bodies, breathed on, coughed on – no-one was paying any attention to the social distancing thing or taking hygienic precautions. I think everyone just wants this pandemic to be over. But that’s not the way it works.

Consequently, I contracted a moderate to severe case of COVID-19 and was terribly sick for over three and a half weeks. Those symptoms kept coming in waves and I think I was delirious for the first week. It was very difficult, and I can’t help feeling a little bit of rage at my fellow man for their dismissal of this virus just because they don’t want to have to deal with it anymore. We nearly called an ambulance four times because I had a dangerously high temperature (over 39oC/ 103oF) couldn’t breathe and couldn’t eat or drink anything for extended periods of time. I’ve already lost 11kgs (over 24 pounds.) So January was not the productive month I hoped it would be. I literally spent the entire month in bed counting the seconds trying to breathe and not cough. I’m just glad I had the foresight to schedule so much in advance so my eagerness to get this blog up and running again was not in vein.

Before I fell ill I did manage to read four books for the month.

It wasn’t a bad month with most of the novels being four stars.

I wish I could report that I watched a lot of movies and shows, but unfortunately I was struggling so much that I couldn’t even watch a show. And forget discovering new blogs and internet content around reading and writing. In fact I didn’t turn my laptop on. I watched a few YouTube videos here and there on my tablet because after 5-10 minutes I was too tired to do anything else.

I was all excited to get the first draft of an outback romance penned in January, but that didn’t happen either. So many things are getting carried over to February after this false start to 2023.

The most exciting thing about January was that I got a lot of gift cards for Christmas so I bought my first lot of books since 2020 and they arrived in drips and drabs through January, and had fun little surprises while I was feeling crappy.

I’m looking forward to catching up and getting back on track in February. I’m still not 100% recovered and have to stay socially isolated until the end of Feb… but that gives me more time to concentrate on writing and blogging, building up my stamina to make 2023 my b!#@h.

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wrapping up 2022…. And getting back into the flow of things!

Looking back through 2022 was like slowly waking up. Since falling out of remission in 2020, treatment went really well but my recovery after has been laboriously slow. That whole brain fog thing you get from chemotherapy hung around for ages, and I suffered through a litany of complications one after the other – but it was the price I had to pay being in a pilot program. Essentially I was the guinea pig for some new drugs. It enabled me to be able to afford treatment, for which I am eternally greatful, but meant we ventured a little into the unknown.

So now that I’ve turned a corner and getting back to work in earnest, I’m bringing back the quarterly goals to get me motivated again!

Book worm:

My last catch up was in January 2021 with 413 on my TBR. To be honest I don’t know how accurate that figure is considering it included books still packed away in boxes (from moving to Queensland) that I have nowhere to unpack. I have restored 1 bookshelf and about to start another so I will have more shelf space soon to get a more accurate figure. But we’ll go with the last recorded number for now. I know I purchased 20 books in 2021-22 to finish off series that I had started reading; and completed 141 books in that same period (most likely more, but you know, dealing with chemo and brain fog I still am uncertain how accurate that is because I stopped writing things down.)

I was also gifted 22 books over Christmas, bringing the total of my TBR to around 314. Not a bad dent! And I’m hoping to half that figure by the end of this year. It will leave just one small bookshelf that will contain my TBR books: which has been my goal for the last few years.

I set my reading goal to 52 books for 2022, to keep any stress off my shoulders about reaching a goal – but I managed to surpass that by reading 85. I’m really proud of my effort.

Thinking back over the year though, I would have to highlight my top reads:

Project Hail Mary; Admiral (start of a new series); The Bane Chronicles; The Galaxy and the Ground Within; Half Bad Trilogy.

And a late entry – The Good Girl Stripped Bare.

I have been concentrating on finishing off series that I have started, and this past year (and a bit) I managed to complete reading 23 series! Some of those I was half way through and other franchises I started and completed in the last 12 months. There is still 8 series that I am carrying over and yet to complete (I have all the books purchased to finish reading these so it’s my goal to complete them by the end of 2023;) I’ve also started 21 new series in the last year and am waiting on the release of the rest of the franchise, or saving up enough money to be able to purchase the rest of the collection. So it looks like I’ve done well, but also have a busy year of reading ahead of me.

Scribe and scribble:

I only managed a small 20,000 words for the year. I did a little work on my WIP (a queer contemporary novel) but mainly focused on completing the first draft of a contemporary romance novella. Mainly to ease into writing again after nearly 2 years off for treatment and recovery. I have set up a cracking pace and lofty goals for 2023 however. I’m fired up and really want to start seeing some progress again. Get into the daily habit of writing. I don’t feel like I’ve been all that productive and excited about writing since my Mum passed away, I think this little brush with death I just experienced has woken me up, and has me wanting to live in the now and follow my happiness. The novels I have slated to work on this year are contemporary, science fiction, and paranormal; so a nice mix to keep things interesting.

Levelling Up:

One thing I have been very excited about is refreshing my knowledge around Marine Biology and all the sciences: Chemistry, Zoology, Marine Botany, Botany, Hydrothermal Vent Ecology, Biometrics, and Fresh Water Ecology. I’m doing this by reviewing all my textbooks, going through old notes and papers I’ve written, it’s helped in my recovery from abovementioned brain fog and re-igniting my passion and curiosity for the planet we live on. It’s also got me thinking about starting a nature blog… we’ll have to see how my workload pans out. I don’t want to get too ambitious and fall flat on my face. But for now, reinvigorating my love of science is the ongoing project in the background.

Social Butterfly:

Being immunocompromised meant I’ve pretty much stayed at home since 2020. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve left the house socially. Though with my health much better now I’m beginning to venture out more and have the strength to manage doing the grocery shopping on my own. It has been very isolating the last few years but my health had to come first. I’m not really making plans about a social future that much, I’m just going to take it easy and see how things go, we still have flare-ups of Covid here, and family and friends are spread out all over the place. I think anything will be an improvement on my social activity at this point. The only way is up!

Creative Projects:

I managed to complete restoring a glass-doored bookshelf and I have another (twice as large) left to finish to complete my library. Although since purchasing the shelves, my book collection has grown, so I may need to look into finding some more bookshelves to restore. I prefer hunting down more solid built shelving with glass doors because they are much more hardy, look fantastic painted and with Victorian appliques added, and the glass doors help protect from dust. It increases the longevity of the books and decreases the amount of cleaning I have to do. But now my issue is that I don’t quite have the room to fit my ever expanding library into. I’ve actually been toying with the idea of renovating the house or converting the double garage into a new study and library. So there are plenty of hands-on jobs to do. But also there are some sewing projects I’m keen to get to. I’ve been getting things completed here and there, and by the end of the next quarter I’d like another big project tucked away.

Additional Income:

I wasn’t able to do anything considered as work for additional income over the last two years – I was flat out just doing regular stuff. I don’t have any immediate plans for this area; but I have a few ideas I want to get off the ground, but it probably won’t happen until the second half of the year. So let’s just put this category on hiatus for now.

Work that body:

Getting back to some sort of shape has been stop-and-start with my recovery. Treatment really took its toll and I was bed-ridden for extended periods. Then I’d start feeling better, get some physical activity in, and crash a few weeks later. Rinse and repeat. As I said before, I’ve definitely turned a corner and now am doing full gym workouts at home and starting to feel like I’m getting back on track. Now it’s about sticking to a post-treatment menu plan and toning my body up to increase stamina. Before I was depressed that I couldn’t do the most basic things without feeling like I was going to pass out; but now I can get a decent session in – I’ve got my starting point and can only get more active and fit from here on out.

Digital Platform:

I was all go-go-go about this just before my diagnosis, but with a shift in priorities, it has altered my trajectory for the future slightly, so it will mean a bit of a re-design for when I go down this road… again probably something I’ll look at in the second half of the year. At the moment I’m concentrating on getting through a regular work day. Completing a tonne of writing before I start to add to my daily tasks. It also gives me a chance to update everything and make it feel fresh and relevant for when it does launch.

As much as 2021-22 has been a non-event for me, it’s given me the opportunity to re-set and I’m excited to see where my life will go from here!! These quarterly goals are more about establishing a routine again and getting back to basics. I don’t want to get too ambitious and crash and burn – it’s about staying positive and not setting myself up for failure.

Up and at ‘em!

© Casey Carlisle 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’ve been neglecting my e-books – am I becoming a book snob?

I’ve been trying desperately to reduce my TBR – and I have been succeeding. With a self-imposed book buying ban, and trying to #BeatTheBacklist, I’ve felt productive and able to appreciate the novels on my shelves, finding that little spark that drew me to purchase them in the first place. I’ve been keeping count of the number of unread books on my shelves, determined to see that figure drop each month. But what I never took into account is any of the e-books I have on my tablet. I actually shudder when I think of all the books I have there hidden away from sight and easily forgotten.

I think I’m going to have a month where I only read e-books. #30DaysOfDigitalReading  Just to start making a dent on the collection I’ve amassed. I announce this challenge with trepidation because I generally attempt to reduce my screen time, and this will push it to the max.

Usually if I really like a book, or happen upon one of my auto-buy authors, I purchase a hardback. If I’m unsure about a novel, I’ll usually grab a e-book: it’s a lower dollar investment, and if I really like the story I’ll get a physical copy later. So now I’m anxious. All these e-books are wildcards. Novels that I was unsure of, or ones that I got free as a part of a subscription service. It could be a fun ride and discover some great new stories… or it will be a complete disaster and I’ll feel like I’ve wasted my time.

When I really started getting into reading with fevor, I was recovering from cancer (the first diagnosis) and had lots of time in bed to while away. An e-reader was perfect. Light, compact, and I could have hundreds of titles at my fingertips. Once I was at full health and returned to work, I preferred physical books. Travelling on the tram to and from work, if you are reading a book you are much less likely to have your device stolen, or have undesirables try to strike up a conversation (*cough* hit on you *cough*) so a book was like my armour… and the best way to make the dreary ride of public transport zoom by.

There is also the stigma that self-published novels that populate the e-book market are typically vetted less, the cost of production is kept low, so quality can be an issue. And sad to say, this has proven true in my many, many years of experience in comparing the two mediums. Though there are always exceptions to the rule. I also find that e-books are great if you are delving into a title that would embarrass you in public, like say if the subject matter, or cover art, could have on-lookers questioning your sanity or taste levels.

But the experience of reading a physical book is so much more satisfying for me. Like the added sensation of touch and smell add to the retention and immersion into the story.

Do you have a preference?

What are your pro’s and con’s of physicals books vs. e-books?

Has anyone read only e-books for a month as a challenge?

Do you think preferring hardbacks is a form or elitism – because they can be the most expensive form of a book, and therefore are a way of flouting your financial status… and don’t get me started on decorating your shelves in tonnes of unread classics as an aesthetic, and to hint to your guests that you are indeed, an intelligent reader.

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Investigative journalism and research can help improve your fiction writing.

Taking a page from journalistic writing to help write and edit your novel.

What’s the best thing about journalism that we tend to overlook?

Typically, print investigative journalism is usually condensed, because there is a word count that the writer needs to comply with. A hook. An angle, a balanced discussion, or point of view the author wishes to bring to light. All the relevant information, facts, and references are provided. Regardless of tone and writing style, these aspects are usually always present. So, what is the takeaway for fiction writing?


If you break down your writing into scenes – a section of your writing that has its own unique combination of setting, character, dialogue, and sphere of activity – (like a conversation, or a fight, or the first time a character arrives at a destination) you can focus on certain elements to help keep your writing focused, paced well, and if need be, your word count on track.

Granted an article is short prose and has different intentions than a novel, but if you look at each scene in your story and ensure it hits benchmarks of purveying the right emotion and intent, covers the plot points (or facts, or reveals) and has an element that engages the reader… all the hard work is done. Then it’s a matter of ensuring the pacing works for the scene and the prose flows easily. Journalism or Non-fiction can tend to be flat or short in its writing style (apologies for the broad and generally incorrect assumption.) Not a lot of time is spent on world building or on character development. It’s all about supported facts and the intent of the piece.

I think this is especially handy when you are looking at your work and can’t figure out what is wrong with the scene.

What is supposed to happen? What do you intend the reader to get from this scene? Or what (facts) am I meant to show the reader? Is the plot point clear?

See how asking those questions clear away a lot of muddy ground to get right to the heart of the scene. Or if in fact the scene is needed at all.

All of the above points deal with the mechanics of your writing… how it is put together. The other aspect of investigative journalism is research. It should be common sense at this point, but there are still writers out there that begin writing a novel about something that they don’t know much about. Taking the time to build the world, craft characters, look into every little facet that makes your characters compelling and interesting, of the world you are setting your novel in (wondrous, or bleak, or scary…) it’s adding those little touches, brief flecks of complexity that give your writing confidence and nuance. I’ve known authors to spend months researching topics before beginning to write. Some create elaborate topological maps, extensive character profiles. Researching mental illness or medical conditions, collection of colloquial dialogue, or even the fashion and social etiquette of a certain time period. Other writers read scientific journals on forward evolution or potential global impacts of things like pollution, over-population, solar radiation, etc… to get a solid ground behind them before crafting even a single sentence. It boasts sound knowledge of their world, plausibility of the plot, and realistic, complex characters which are a joy to read. The narrative feels solid and realistic no matter the subject.

Things like this can be applied in a developmental edit, but, you can use these tools in the planning phase of writing your novel depending where you sit in the spectrum of Plotter vs. Pantser.

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

System Restored!

After 3 months with a soft social media detox, a computer in for technical repairs, and chemotherapy, it’s time to get back to the regularly scheduled program and reflect on what I did with all that free time… and does social media really warrant the amount of time we spend on it?

At the beginning of March, my computer screen suddenly went dark. I could turn the system on, but was only met with a blank display. Immediately I thought of how much it would cost for repairs, of the potential expensive replacement. Then I agonised over the loss of my files. I back up at the end of every week and the fault happened at lunch time on Friday – so a week’s worth of writing on my WIP (just over 3 chapters) was hanging in limbo. Would I get to recover my work or not? Then there’s the months’ worth of blog posts I’d worked ahead, sitting on a hard drive I can’t get access to.

I elected to take a social media break while my computer was in the shop rather than scramble and create new content immediately. It seemed like a lot of stress to put on me for no reason. And buggar trying to rewrite those chapters to my WIP from memory. The first week was strange. After being used to a tight schedule for so long, I found myself constantly sitting in my study in a Pavlovian response, ready to write, blog, scroll the socials… to an empty desk. Instead of trying to fill this time with more work, I decided to catch up on all those relaxation activities I’d been saving for a rainy day. My chemotherapy is coming to an end and the sessions a little more intense with stronger dosages, so indulgence in reading and catching up on television shows were top priority. Plus, in hindsight, a lot of the writing I was doing towards the end was word salad or stopped mid thought… the chemo brain was hitting hard and from my perspective, I didn’t notice the lapses until now. Admittedly I felt very lazy and unproductive. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a holiday, that I’m taking time to rest and recover, and get over the guilt of not having daily accomplishments.

The social media thing, I did not miss that so much. It’s lovely to keep in contact with family and friends, but did not realise how much time and head space that takes up. On my hiatus, I didn’t have to dress up and look nice every day, I could veg on the couch in trackies, without a care in the world. Maybe if I wasn’t sick and exhausted from my treatment I’d have a different attitude and miss the social interaction; but frankly, I loved the time alone where I didn’t have to put on a smile. Or comfort people because they felt uncomfortable because of what I was going through. I could be sullen and cranky all by myself, cry and get doggy cuddles; it might sound morbid, but it was heaven to revel in that emotion for a while. Purge it from my system.

I watched many (many) seasons of shows that I’d been meaning to get to, read four trilogies that have been tormenting me from the TBR shelf for years, played some video games, and slept. A lot. It kind of feels like a cheat, because now I’m well over three months in front for my book reviews… so despite doing little, I accomplished something.

I usually limit my social media to an hour, or hour and a half a day in the mornings with breakfast. And I think that is not going to change, I don’t need to be wasting any more of my day than that. But I do think I want to limit my time spent on blogging a little more – as much as I love it time spent relaxing instead of scheduling every minute of my day has left me feeling calmer and more refreshed. I have a bad habit of always trying to do too much, and taking time to just be feels important. That doesn’t mean I need to slow down with the blogging, just make sure the time I spend there count.

So I guess I’m back. The hard part of my health is behind me (fingers crossed) and even though I am still having technical difficulties, there are work arounds to keep my productivity up. But the social media break actually helped remind me of what is the correct balance – and let me reclaim time back to spend on more important things.

Have you ever done a social media break? Did it give you anything in return, like perspective, recharge the batteries, or did you miss it too much and swear never to do it again?

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hitting your stride… starting small and building up your reading and writing habits.

A February 2021 wrap up

I have to admit, I’m making a concerted effort to get my TBR down so far this year. I managed 6 novels this month, taking my total TBR down to 407.

I’m also getting back into the swing of writing regularly again, though most of my writing this month has been in edits and re-writes on my current WIP. I’m giving myself a few months to polish off this draft and am really excited with the forward momentum despite losing work time for chemotherapy and recovery. I’m planning on spending the first half of 2021 drafting and the second half polishing manuscripts ready for submission. With 3 drafts completed, I need to get them to a point I’m satisfied with, and start querying. I can’t keep putting it off or toying with the manuscripts. Otherwise I’ll never get past where I am.

So, I’m past the halfway mark on my queer contemporary novel, which makes me feel like doing a happy dance.

Having this enforced break from my regular pace of writing and work, and now trying to break back into productivity, it’s like I’m starting over from scratch. I’ve mentioned it many times before that you need to create a writing habit. It gears your mind and circadian rhythms into a rewarding routine. So for my first month back into writing, my word count was down (and the fact I did a lot or re-reading and editing to get back into the tone and setting of the novel after time away) in comparison to what I would usually turn out. But I feel a great sense of joy to be back at the keyboard and working towards my goals.

I’m a huge lover of checklists, graphs for productivity, and making spreadsheets where I can colour in squars with each achievement… a visual reminder of progress in very motivating for me and keeps reminding me of what I have achieved and not to be so hard on myself.

What do you do to track your progress?

What helps motivate you in organising your writing?

Besides all that I’ve just been concentrating on getting through my treatment and fighting my way back to health! Combining a bit of physical therapy with my treatment has helped no end. It’s keeping up my physical fitness as well as stacking the cards in my favour for a quick bounce back after all this chemo is over. (It is beginning to look like mid-year until I’m finished with treatment. UGH!) You have good and bad days, but I’m seeing slow progress which gives me a warm fuzzy inside.

I have to wrestle with my pooch for the couch on a daily basis, he seems to think it’s his spot for naps – he still does not understand that it’s for ME to take naps on. My furbabies bring me joy each day, and don’t seem to mind that I don’t have the stamina to play with them too much or take them for long walks. My little fluffy cheer squad!

Not the best quality of picture (because I used my phone and not my regular DSLR camera – and it was a few days before they got groomed, so my boys are looking a bit scruffy. But still cute as all getout!

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.