Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Working hard/Hardly blogging

As usual, this blog goes dark when too much is going on. 

So, here's what's been going on over here at Huff House East: Too much.

We've been celebrating quietly 

Toonamint turned eight


Tamsin's whole life has been gearing up towards her First Sleepover Party, which, in our house, is allowed when you turn eight. She's been so excited. She watched Ailsa's June birthday get pushed back to September, though, so wasn't completely unprepared when, at the end of November, we weren't allowed to invite friends into our home, even for cake. But, cake we had, and we've promised that the very instant we're allowed to open our doors, we'll invite her two besties over for a night of sugar and giggles (and probably no sleep). 

She is still delightfully silly, despite being a mature young lady of eight. We like her a lot.

Party Llama cake


Huff Holiday Season

Snacky dinners:
when the cheese plate gets taken a bit too far.
Christmas was quiet, too. 

Just us, which has been the norm for the past three years, but this year, we were going to host all of Chris' family. That didn't happen, and neither did any of our planned outings, because everything's closed. However, again, should things reopen, we have a voucher to use at Legoland. Don't tell the kids (we didn't). 

But, Santa came, we were spoiled even rottener than usual, we feasted, we sang... it was still a good Christmas.


Family selfie in front of Fortnum and Mason
on our annual Christmas Lights Walk.


Tween turns twelve


Vaughn turned twelve without enough excitement, but with plenty of presents and food. Again, give us the word, UK government, and we'll have some of his friends over to eat pizza, play video games, and... well, that's all that 12-year-old boys like to do, really, as evidenced by our new 12-year-old boy. 

He's even more awesome (and stubborn) than when we brought him home from the hospital when he was three days old. Snif. 

Cake: good. 


Pirate cake inspired by his new Sea of Thieves video game.


Back to school homeschool 

Everything is totally normal.

We moved to "Tier 5" of Covid-19 restrictions* just after Christmas, and since then have spent all day, every day together. I've been sitting at the table with the kids, trying to keep up with my own contracts and projects (and usually putting in hours after they go to bed, because there's just no way to do both), while Chris has been manning the printer. He is reprising his classic role of Sandwich Maker, and doing swimmingly, as well as taking on the title of Snackmaster.



Where were you when you got the news?


Everything else

There is nothing else. Well, that's not quite true. The kids walk Ziggy before school, and have various exercise stations around the flat, including Vaughn's new punching bag. The older two were proud to have passed their Grade 1 piano exams in the fall, and all three are keeping up with piano lessons via Zoom. And, once a week, I get a full hour** to myself*** to teach my ZoomCamp, an intra-living-room workout class for my bootcamp participants. 

We have no plans for travel, as we're not allowed to sleep overnight away from our own residence, but...no, that's it. No plans.

Finally, this blog may end up getting transported/commuted/rolled into my writing site (http://karenhoughwrites.com/), so stay tuned and I'll send an update when that's a go.




* Tier 6 is rumoured to involve being confined to underground burrows 24 hours/day and having to grow one's own mushrooms for sustenance

** it's never a full hour before someone walks in

*** see above (sigh)

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Writing by Discovery

Guest Post on Ruth Hendricks' Blog

I was so pleased when Ruth invited me to write a guest post on her photography and lifestyle blog. She shares inspiring new content every day: images, stories, recipes... and now I'm proud to be on there too. 

She asked for a short piece about my experiences as a writer, my process and how I managed to juggle writing and family (especially as the bulk of my novel was done while homeschooling the kids during the first lockdown).

I sort of spoke to those things. Sort of. As happens (to me), the story never quite ends up where I think it will.

Writing by Discovery, on rutheh.com



Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Dear American Friends

American friends, I have some questions for you


That's it. I've had it. After years and years of having to explain and re-explain a certain holiday to my friends from the US, I think we should take back our Thanksgiving

A pile of brightly-coloured maple leaves
Autumn leaves. Maple leaves, to be specific. (image credit: Greg Shield on Unsplash)



(Ahem.)

So... what's "American Thanksgiving" about? I mean, what do you celebrate? 

What? And the Native Canadians saved the explorers/invaders' lives by sharing their harvest in the US too? 

Oh, you have Native Americans? Huh. That's weird.

Well, what kind of food do you eat? 

Turkey, like us? Really? What about for dessert? 

Oooo, pumpkin pie? 

Imagine that.

Wasn't Thanksgiving back in October, though? Why do you have it at the end of November, when it's really cold and snowy? That's crazy.

Back to those "Native Americans"...do you think the same white men just docked their boats further south, like, two months later, and different First Nations people came to help them? 

Maybe? Could that have happened?

Anyway, happy "American Thanksgiving!" (If that's really a thing.)


Fartees. Man, I'm funny. (image credit: author's own)

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Oh, The Places I've Been

Instead of being here on Blogger, I mean


Image credit: thomas shellberg on Unsplash

I didn't mean to disappear; I never do. Longtime readers know that, at least once a year, I fade away and the blog languishes, with no updates on my family, no lectures about exercise and fitness or posts of the (few) amazing meals I make. Sometimes it's because I have news that I'm not ready to share yet, like a move or a baby.* Or because I have no time or energy at the end of the day (every 2-week-or-longer school break, November). 

I wish it was due to travel, but since September, I have been to Wembley twice (ooooo...) and to Potter's Bar. I have travelled for up to 45 minutes to get 15 miles from my flat. And, like a fool, I brought my family with me.

But, I digress.

I've been trying a thing. 

I have a few writing and copywriting contracts that keep me quite busy, and I've been revising and editing my novel (Ground Control! Available on EpisodicReading.com!), and of course, until today, my twice-weekly bootcamps have been taking up time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But, I also decided to really, truly, fully commit to using more adverbs posting and promoting more articles on Medium.

I joined two Facebook groups that cross-promote and leave feedback for fellow Medium authors, became a writer for three more publications, and wrote two articles a week, mostly in my health-and-fitness niche. It was going well. By putting in approximately six more hours per week than I had been doing, for a whole month, I saw my earnings increase by... not very much, really. However, at the beginning of October, the Medium algorithm changed completely, so I can't be sure how that's working out yet.

Consistency is key, of course. But then it was half term, and three kids back underfoot, and then a week in that cabin in Potters Bar (that story is coming soon). November means NaNoWriMo, which means I'm trying to write another novel (coming soon to EpisodicReading.com!) in a month. And now with the latest lockdown, when my entire life seems to be writing, I don't know that I want to -- waste isn't the right word -- spend an extra six hours writing for a platform that keeps rebranding and rejigging its algorithms. How am I supposed to know what's working?

I'm flexible. I roll with things. From lockdown to homeschooling to having three children and poufy hair, I can rally and make things work. For example, today's bootcamp was ZoomCamp, and it worked (though I did miss the mud). I thrive on challenge and deadlines, and would rather be too busy than underused, though I had a very profane moment last week when Amazon suggested that I might like to buy an adult colouring book.** I can barely imagine what it would be like to be trapped inside, bored and lonely. On most days, that sounds like the best thing ever.

But, I know it's not. The best thing ever is being healthy, sending the kids to school in the morning and knowing that I still have a full day of work ahead of me. It's a warm and safe flat to live, good food to eat, and as much tea as I want to drink.

So, that's what I've been up to lately. I will try my best to catch up on the real-life stuff before all three of the kids are taller than me.


Karen Hough - Medium

Green tea is for the morning. As the kids make their beds and brush their teeth, I boil the kettle. I start with a cup of flavoured green tea from my growing stash of tins and teas. Dragon Fruit, Berry Blend, Sencha Rose, Mint.



*There is no baby. I repeat, I am not having another baby.

**Who the #$% has time to colour???





Friday, 30 October 2020

My book has a trailer and it's cooler than my book

I love the creative team at Episodic Reading. Before I even sent them a palette of colours and images that I had in mind for my book cover, they said, "We were thinking this but it's just a draft and we totally welcome any feedback or changes." 

Image credit: EpisodicReading.com

It was perfect. 

And then, they said, "Also, we made this trailer for your book, and it's just our first pass, but what do you think?" First, my book, and second, a trailer. For my book. (It still doesn't feel real.)

And it was perfect too, so good that I cried -- so good that Fis was impressed -- but it raises a problem.

"Your trailer is writing cheques that my book can't cash!" I cried.

"No, it's based on your book," they responded.

"My book is nowhere near that cool."

"Yes it is."

"My book isn't that exciting."

"The trailer is literally based on the words you wrote."

...and so forth.

So, yeah. My book has a trailer. (My book has a trailer.) I warn you that it starts off in the suburbs, that the exciting space stuff happens later, but take a look at the trailer, then read the first few episodes, and decide for yourself.



Note: to read on Episodic, you need to sign up for a membership, which is free until November 27th, so head on over now!


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