Tag: house renovations

Holiday Nerdy Staycation – 2016 edition

Holiday Nerdy Staycation: 2016 edition

I have a personal tradition. For the holiday period between Christmas and New Years I celebrate with a nerdy stay-cation. Last year I read piles of books, watched tv, and binged on youtube series. Reading so much feels down right decadent. Watching whole TV series is sinfully slothful. It is amazingly restorative and just what my soul needs at the end of the year.

So this year, I did it yet again.



  1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – This book inspired a musical. You might have heard of it, it also won a few things. (Like my undying admiration.) And some people posted about it on twitter.  I’m still working on this one.  It’s an audio book and at 37 hours long, that’s a lot gym trips.
  2. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly –  It’s a truly amazing story about the Black Women who were part of the 1960’s space race.  This one has also been getting some press.
  3. Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul – I’ve been hearing for years about what a great writing craft book this is. I wasn’t sure at first. Did I really need a whole chapter on choosing a title? Yes. Yes I did. This really is one of the best writing books I’ve read.
  4. The Case of the Girl in Grey (The Wollenstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 2) by Jordan Stratford – Imagine a steampunk alternate reality where young Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley become best friends and solve mysteries. Oh, bestill my nerdy heart! I discovered this one when I was desperate for a audiobook. By the time I realized it was the second in the series I was too hooked to go back.
  5. The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1) by Jordan Stratford. I devoured this book in an afternoon. It was every bit as great as the first book (which was the 2nd) but had the added advantage that it introduced the characters and set the scene. Apparently they were in London not the countryside. Who knew?
  6. The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands – Adventure, mystery, secret societies, encoded messages, and blowing up taxidermy bears all set in historical London. What’s not to love?
  7. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser – Like Writing Picture Books, there’s a reason everyone recommends this one. I’m still working my way through it but I can already tell that it will become an oft-used favorite.
  8. The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan – This late addition was started just last night and will probably be done before this blog post gets cold. It has adventure, mystery, drama, and wonderful characters.
  9. Time Travel with a Hamster by Ross Welford – Like some of other books on this list, I’m not yet done with this one. Unlike some, it isn’t because of it’s sheer heft. (I’m looking at you 29 cd audiobook of Alexander Hamilton.) No, this one is taking awhile because, frankly, it drags. Still, I’m invested enough in the characters to see it through. Eventually.



  1. Gilmore Girls – According to my friends I’m the only person on the planet that hasn’t seen the original series. Fixing that now. (PSST. You can stream it on Netflix.)
  2. Die Hard – This was my first time seeing it. It truly is the best Christmas movie.
  3. Crash Course World History – Still working on this one. This is actually a well-done course. Fairly sure it tromps my high school World Civilization class and not just because it has 100% more animation and Mongols.
  4. NativLang – I discovered this gem that covers linguistics topics.
  5. Christmas movies – Every year we run through our favorites. And most years I zone out to read during half of them. Nerdy staycation FTW!


  1. I got a membership to the Planetary Society for Christmas! I binge read my first magazine on Christmas day. It even had an article on New Horizons and Pluto. My family knows me so well.


You may have noticed that more of this year’s list is “in progress.” Some of that is that the books are bigger and just take longer to read. (You know you you are.) But I also spent a good bit of my break writing and trying to finish up kitchen renovation. The moral of the story is that a Nerdy Staycation should feed your soul and if your soul is hungry for writing rather than reading, go for it. The moral of the moral is that you also need to feed your stomach and having a kitchen makes that much easier.

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017: Good Riddance and Resolutions

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2017

2016 sure was a mixed bag.

It saw some writerly highs: the publication of my first book, Goodnight Jesus. Goodnight Jesus has only been out for 3 months and it’s already headed to a second printing. I wrote 8 picture books drafts. (Thanks, 12×12!) Better yet some of them I’m not even embarrassed to put my name on! My middle grade book crossed an invisible threshold: it surpassed my Masters Thesis as the longest thing I’ve ever written.  I scored high profile interviews for my nonfiction projects. I even pulled in some freelance projects that I’m very excited about.  Not bad considering much of the year I’ve also been rebuilding our kitchen.

On a personal front it was mixed. I been to many happy weddings and welcomed many babies this year. There have also been funerals and hard losses.

2016 was also the year that brought “dumpster fire” into our shared vocabularies.



2016 gave us heart wrenching international events and an the election that gave us nation-wide depression. Plus, it was a really bad year to be a celebrity. (Yes, really. Here’s a full statistical analysis to prove it.)

All in all, I’m happy to put 2016 behind me.

Hello 2017, full of hope and possibility. May you be a year of writerly success without the taint of dumpster fires.

In 2017 I want to continue to build on my successes. Writing 5 days a week (more if I can help it!). Reading hundreds of books. Learning about my craft. And contributing to my community and accountability.

Here’s to a new year!

House Construction and Book Recommendations

Building Our House book cover

Three years ago we bought a fixer-upper. Even the bathroom sink was sad about the state of the house.

We’ve spent the last three years pulling out shag carpet, taking down hot pink wallpaper, painting everything inside and out, and fixing a million things. Now we are one large project away from the finish line. We just need to finish the kitchen/dining room/laundry area/half bath.

After too many months of procrastination, I can’t put it off any longer. The kitchen is packed, the new counters are ordered, and there’s no going back.

So if things are little quiet on here for awhile, know that I’m probably installing a kitchen sink.  Or reading while I wait for paint to dry.

In the meantime, you can read the family favorite, Building Our House. Living in a construction zone is definitely something my kids understand.


And I have plenty more book recommendations if you need more to keep you busy.

Wish me luck.