let’s get the ball rolling again

Hi there! *plops in*
It’s been a loooooooong while since I wrote here last. So long, that I had forgotten the logins for both the admin and the writer accounts. *hangs head in shame* And goodness gracious, did a lot happen in that year since my last post. Let’s try a recap.

1) I got married.
Uhm yes. We did the thing we never planned to do, and promised to be there for each other in good times and in bad, through sickness and in health until death rips us apart. Well, actually, it wasn’t THAT dramatic. But it was wonderful, and exciting and everything we wanted it to be. I’ll tell you all about it in another post. And I’ll maybe even add pictures.

2) I bought a car.
Also a thing I never really had on the agenda, but opportunity struck, and now I’m the proud owner of Janis, a 1993 Mercedes C-Class, which is not-yet vintage, but classic enough for me to not confuse me with a gazillion gimmicks. And just like with the dishwasher, I’m kicking myself for not getting one sooner.

3) I finished Beginnings.
I don’t know how I did it, not with wedding planning and two major meetings to organize at work, but I somehow managed to write over 50.000 words. To my utter amazement it’s a whole story and I didn’t give up, even though there were moments I really wanted to quit. I still haven’t decided how I’ll publish it. Maybe as a serial on the blog first, and then as an ebook? It still needs some sort of cover graphic thingamagick, too.

4) Other hijinks.
Besides these major life events we also had to deal with a rotten drain pipe in the kitchen and a broken fridge. I’ll tell you, living without a fridge for 3 months can seriously up your stress-levels. It took so long to replace, because the old fridge was too young to die on us and the manufacturer eventually agreed and offered us a new one for half the price. But that took time.

Okay, I think that was all… and I promise, I won’t keep you waiting another year for the next blog post. 😛

sunday snippet

I worked a lot on “Beginnings” the last few days, finally cleared out the excess words and laid out the structure for the last few chapters. And I also wrote an awful lot that isn’t showing up in the statistic, because I deleted much more. Gnah. Frustrating. Anyway, here’s a glimpse at the words that ‘do not count':

There were three reasons Adelie preferred the Lemon Tree over every other diner in town. First, it was never crowded, despite the fact that it was practically next to the airbase. Second, the hot dogs. The Lemon Tree’s hot dogs were special. The bun always had a crackly crust and a fluffy inside, not spongy like cheap ones. The roasted onions were crisp and caramelised to perfection. The hot dog itself was always indeed hot and not lukewarm like in other places. The ketchup was home-cooked, a chunky red sauce with a spicy aftertaste, and Adelie often just ordered fries because of it. The third reason was, of course, the handsome guy behind the counter, who currently smiled at her while she finished her hot dog. Nate was the main reason she dropped by because it was an easy way to see him during their busy days. He worked three shifts a week, which ate up a considerable amount of his free time. Outside the big windows, the first fall storm played chase with the leaves. Inside, the Lemon Tree’s owner, Trudy, was busy putting up some fall themed decorations, mainly pumpkins.
“Do you have rugby training tonight?” Adelie asked, pushing back the empty dish.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a hoot in this weather. Let’s hope there’ll be no rain, that makes everything so slippery.” Nate collected her dish and brought it into the kitchen.
As he returned she said: “I’m going to think of you, while I curl up on my love seat, reading a good book and drinking hot cocoa.”
He shot her a dirty look and walked around the counter to sit down on a bar stool next to her. The diner was empty so he could keep her company for a while. His handsomeness was off the charts today, with the little stubble on his chin and the lick of black chest hair that was visible under the v-neck of his t-shirt. The navy blue of his hoodie set off the bright blue of his eyes even more. She wanted to slide her hands over his chest, under its thick fabric where his warmth would be waiting for her. His nearness was the best antidote against any heartache she was still harbouring.
“It’s unfair,” she murmured.
“Pardon?” He took her hands. “What’s unfair?”
“Your handsomeness.”


Happy Friday, everyone! How are you all? I had this week off, because I needed to do something with five (!!!) unplanned vacation days. Oh, the luxury. (1) So, what did I do? I cleaned, mostly. After I don’t know how many weeks of soaring temperatures and having to store all the balcony stuff inside due to paint works going on outside, my house was a hell hole. A mess. A disaster. And this state always makes me extremely unhappy, short tempered and not a nice person. But – balcony is ready to be occupied again, all the plants are back outside, as is the bean bag and I can walk around without tripping over anything – time to bust out the vaccuum cleaner and go to work.

A photo posted by Diana (@himmelskratzer) on

I’m also working (very slowly though) on a redesign of this very page. I had the hardest time to decide on a colour scheme and am still not happy with it. For some reason designing for myself is the most difficult thing. My brain always draws a blank when I want to think up pretty things for myself.

A photo posted by Diana (@himmelskratzer) on

I wrote too, but not as much as I wanted to, because: cleaning. Lounging in aforementioned bean bag and reading was also a top priority. I’m on vacation after all. I also climbed back on the working out band waggon, which had taken a back seat during all this heat. Although I’m seeing results with my current routine, I decided to follow a program named Spartan Trials. (2) I did the first day yesterday and nearly fainted… yeah, working out while it has 34°C outside maybe wasn’t the greatest idea. Luckily, today is an “abs day” – THIS I can do without fainting. I love doing crunches, sit-up, etc… After a motherfucker of a thunderstorm last night it’s also significantly cooler today. I fear that was it for temperatures over the 30°C degree line… *sniff* I love heat.

So, what’ve you been up to? I’d love to hear from your adventures.

(1) Well, I still had them because I couldn’t take my usual week off in March. So there.
(2) I found darebee.com on Pinterest a few weeks ago. They have awesome workouts, aren’t sponsored and totally free. Go check it out.

hello august!

I realised that I wrote just one meagre blog post last month. And that one wasn’t even writing related. Bad me. In my defense, it was just too warm to think. ^___^ Anyway, I’m happy to report that “Beginnings” is nearing completion of the first draft. Hooray! I even began meddling with already written stuff, so technically we’ve already entered the second draft stage. This meddling led to me rewriting almost the entire first chapter, because there just wasn’t enough energy between Nate and Adelie. Want proof? Continue reading

six months with an activity tracker

A photo posted by Diana (@himmelskratzer) on

I started using the Polar Loop in February and upgraded to the M400 in March, so it’s almost half a year with a little dictator on my wrist. Coincidentally, six months is also usually the time most people stop wearing a tracker (1) – because they don’t feel they’re getting fitter, aren’t loosing weight or simply don’t like a bulky, ugly thing attached to their wrist. Truth is, yes – the M400 is bulky and not pretty at all. But it’s also very robust and has so far survived all our adventures together. I can even shower with it, which is nice. Most importantly though, it motivates me to get off my ass and move. I especially like the function that it beeps when I sit for an hour. Of course I can’t always get up and walk around – it would be rather weird to do that in a meeting – but I do it whenever it’s possible during the day, no matter how much sidekick giggles.

Things I like of the M400:

  • I can use it as a watch, meaning there’s a reason to actually have it on my wrist all the time. Yes, I’m a watch person. Too much hassle to pull out the iPhone every time.
  • It has GPS! I can use it for bike riding and it “knows” that I’m moving, and not sitting around.
  • Programmable workouts, stop watch, timer, alarm…
  • It’s not just an activity tracker, but designed for people who train, especially runners. I can pair it with a HF sensor and track the activity way more accurately.
  • The battery lasts a week, even with daily GPS usage.

Things that I don’t like so much (that actually goes for all the motion sensor based trackers):

  • It only works for a certain kind of workouts or movements, mostly cardio based ones. Strength training or even something like cycling, goes undetected, unless I’ll “cheat” with using the GPS and/or the HF sensor.
  • As they measure everything, even a rather passive activity like cooking can fill up the bar, simply because my hands move a lot.
  • I have no idea what the sleep tracking is supposed to tell me – are 80% restful sleep good or bad?

I don’t want to say the data is totally unreliable, and I’m aware that it’s the bigger picture that counts, not the individual day. I also never just felt obligated to fill up the 10.000 steps – the M400 doesn’t base it’s calculation of your daily goal solely on this anyway. It measures the intensity too, so I can reach my goal faster if I do something like running, leading to lesser steps needed. (2)

I use the M400 to monitor my success, to nudge me when I’m slacking, but it’s not the thing that tells me what to do. It’s not even setting the goal, it’s just making sure that I reach my personal goals. Although I can’t deny that it’s unbelievably rewarding to hear the little fanfare when I reach the daily goal it has set for me.

Right now I have my aptly named “Bootcamp” workout that consists of:

– 10 minutes of hula hooping/dancing/ goofing off to get warm
– 20 – 40 min of body weight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, etc… depending on how many repetitions I want to do. I always aim for 50, but considering the push-ups, I’m nowhere near that goal.
– doing weights
– 15 min of stretching/yoga

This is almost an hour, and I don’t do it every day. I try to make time to do it two to three times a week. I also go for walks and take the bike to work.

All of this makes a difference. Back in February I was feeling like close to death after 15 min of body weight exercises, I had zero muscle definition and the three flights of stairs up to the office left me wheezing. When I got off my bike in March, I more than once saw stars after bending over to lock it, my thighs feeling like tree logs more than once. Now I have baby abs, toned arms and stairs are having a hard time getting me out of breath. The bike ride is easy-peasy. I feel better overall. I enjoy having that hour of sweating, huffing and hurting for myself in a very visceral way. My bouncy brain doesn’t have time to stray because it needs to focus on us not tipping over, so it’s really just me and my body achieving things and concentrating on moving. This is the most motivating thing actually. Not the growing muscles, not the improved stamina, but the fact that I get to spend time in myself, with nothing distracting me from being in me. Yeah, I know, it sounds very much like the yoga gods got me, but that’s what gets me down on my mat every week. That and the shower afterwards.

Yesterday I bought serious workout clothes. Now I know why fitness models all have artificially enhanced breasts, because those sports bras are nothing but flattening devices. o___O Now I have shiny new clothes made from high tech fibres that whisk away sweat and dry fast and I even managed to find some in not eye-searing colours. And they are sooo cooomfy, I could live in them all day. ^___^

A photo posted by Diana (@himmelskratzer) on

Overall I can say that getting such a tracker worked for me, but only because the one I use is not a one trick pony. I think I can safely say that the Loop with its limited functions wouldn’t have kept me at trying to lead a more active life. The M400 still works as a sports watch should I ever decide to stop trying to reach my daily activity goal, so it’s still useful besides that.

(1) I did some research about how useful the trackers actually are. This article sums up their limitations quite nicely, so I won’t go into them with much detail.

(2) Fun fact: When I use the HF sensor on my bike rides to work, I’ve reached around 80% of that daily goal solely through getting to and back from work at the end of the day. I can easily fill up the missing 20% with cooking, cleaning and going for a short walk. If I just use the GPS on my bike rides, the activity tracker hovers around 50 – 60% at the end of the day, requiring a lot more effort to fill it up.

writing happy couples

Writing Nate and Adelie in sappy moments is one of my favourite things. I sometimes do it just for fun, because it is so therapeutic. Yesterday I learned that one of my all-time real-life OTPs (1), and the first couple who sort of hired me as a wedding photographer, has split. I’m still in shock. Of course, you can never know what’s going on in a relationship when you’re not part of it, but I’d never ever suspected them to break up. So I needed to write lots of happy Nate and Adelie moments today, and luckily I was at a point in Beginnings that actually justified exactly this. Like Nate coming home after a long and shitty shift as a bartender…

Adelie was still awake, sitting at her desk and studying.
“Hey handsome, how’re you doing?” She pushed the chair away from the desk and it swivelled around so that she faced him. The sight of her in a loose tank top and a pair of shorts instantly soothed his bruised soul. She got up and took his head into her hands, studying his face. “You had a hard night.”
“Hey. You have no idea.”
“My poor baby.”
He dropped his bag to the floor and put his hands on her hips to pull her closer. Hers slid up into his hair and she kissed him. Suddenly he was glad that she’d insisted on him coming over. Her pliable body in his arms, her warm welcome – the day would end on a happy note. He nuzzled her neck, and his stubble tickled her. She drew back, giggling.
“Ugh… Eau de Hamburger is not my favourite.”
“I warned you.”
She pushed him towards the bathroom. “Go, take a shower. You’ll feel and smell better afterwards.”

I also found another very happy couple on DeviantArt last week, Blaire and Prosper, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who comes up with couples who are not all drama and no substance. It’s not like being together isn’t a challenge, and relationships themselves provide enough ammunition for the most stupid fights (2), so I don’t think I need any external source of conflict. Shortly after the moment above Nate and Adelie will learn exactly that – that relationships are a lot of work, that you have to make compromises and that you need to accept your partners quirks, ticks and habits. The chapter has the working title “shit hits the fan” for a reason.

(1) OTP = One True Pairing, aka the pairing you ship the most. If you’ve no idea what shipping is… go find a dictionary.
(2) I’m guilty of nearly flipping tables because of so substantial things like correct recycling… ahem.

i’ve turned internet shy

I used to be a lot more outgoing on this magical glittery rainbow named the Internet. Emphasis on used to. And it makes me sad, because I think one of the greatest possibilities of this thing that connects us globally, across all borders, across all cultures is that you can peek into other people’s lives. Lives you would never have a chance to have access to otherwise – because of distance, because of language barriers, because of cultural reasons. (1) One reason I’ve become sort of an “online reclusive” is certainly the fact that I started to work. For whatever reason I’m more comfortable sharing my personal life with complete strangers half across the globe than with people I see every day. I don’t even know why. Am I afraid they might find me weird? We’re not in America where a picture of you with an alcoholic beverage can get you fired, and there are no compromising pictures of me anyway. Or are there? Posting a picture of my bare midriff on Instagram recently felt decidedly daring. But FFS, I worked hard for these abs. The other reason I’ve become reluctant to share myself are the concerted efforts of data collection by Google, Facebook and yes, my beloved Apple too. I guess Amazon knows me best. And even though all of these things they know about me may be innocent things – under certain circumstances those facts could cause me to become suspicious. Not the greatest feeling.

Other, minor things that might have contributed to my reluctance:

  • the pressure of posting only perfect things,
  • the seemingly perfect lives of others,
  • trolls, misogynists and other a-holes (2),
  • the feeling that I’m talking to a black hole anyway

I don’t like this. I don’t like that I basically censor myself, when I feel it important to speak up, make a point and turn the world into a happier, brighter place. I used to enjoy to invite people into my life, into my virtual living room, and I’m going to do this again. It’s time to come back out of my shell. It feels like I’m attempting to do a bungee jump, but here is my Twitter, my Instagram, my Tumblr, here is my insane kaleidoscope of interests bundled up into neat Pinterest boards, and my slightly dormant Flickr photo stream. If you’re there too, feel free to say hello. Please say hello – let’s have a virtual cup of tea and chat.

*fluffs up the pillows and dusts shelves*

(1) I think that is why politicians are so afraid of the Internet – because once you’ve seen that we’re all humans, with the same challenges and problems, it becomes increasingly hard to see others as enemies. Unless, of course, you’re a stupid troll and the whole world is your enemy.
(2) Not that this blog with its readership of 4 is in any danger of attracting any trolls though.

writer’s little helpers

Writing is a tedious thing. Not only have you come up with adequate words to describe vivid pictures in your mind, no – after that, you’ll have to go over these words countless times to make them better. As a non-native speaker, I have my own special set of pitfalls to deal with on top of that. Instead of torturing my beloved alpha reader with weird grammar and sentences that don’t make sense, I recently employed the help of Grammarly, an online grammar checker. To my surprise, my grammar isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be, besides missing commas. Good grammar is one thing, but there’s a whole set of other issues a writer has to deal with:

  • Clichés
  • Repetition of words and phrases
  • Too. Many. Adverbs.
  • Too much flourish
  • Passive instead of active voice
  • Pacing issues
  • Unvaried sentence length and structure

And that is something hard to catch when you edit your own writing – unless you’re willing to put it into a drawer and not look at it for a year, to read it again with fresh eyes. If you have money to spare, you hire a professional copy editor to hunt down this stuff for you. I decided to let a robot (1) do this menial task for now, and save the truck of money for other writing related things.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 13.32.40

Of course, there are issues. Surprisingly though, I don’t use the word “could” as much as I thought I do. My hunch that I’m very much overusing “felt” was correct – ouch. I’m going to have a ton of fun come July, that’s for sure. And even if it hurts a bit to see what stupid rookie mistakes I sometimes make, in the end I’ll be a better writer. Nothing will be gained from pretending to be a special flawless snowflake.

(1) That magical creature listens to the name AutoCrit.

sprint to the finish line


So – after some thinking and some mid-project clean up (1) this is where I stand: Three chapters away from finishing! As you can see, I aim for around 3000 to 4000 words per chapter, which means I’m in the 10.000 words ballpark until I’m done. I know, this sounds like a huge number, but it really isn’t. I know what has to happen in those three chapters that are currently red. I just have to write it down. (2)

I still have a hard time concentrating on finishing though. The muse is coming up with ideas for the next book, and I have to constantly remind her, that we already have a plot for this one. Then I don’t know how to proceed after I’m done with writing, editing, proof-reading, etc. I always said the short stories are going to be free, but this isn’t a short story any more, this is a novella. Meaning, I could put a price tag on it and sell it. And this scares me to death, because there’s so much additional stuff to figure out to do this. (3) This overwhelms me to no end, and I seriously consider foregoing a little bit of pocket money because I don’t want to deal with all of this. *hides in her blanket fort* And if I actually publish it for reals, with a price tag and an ISBN and all the bells and whistles, then I’m a published author and… *breathes into a paper bag* You see, it’s difficult right now.

I better get back to write these three chapters, then I’m putting the whole thing into a drawer for a week or two, then edits with a fresh eye, and then I’ll see what I’m going to do.

(1) I wonder if I’ll ever learn to not edit halfway through… it always means I’m writing backwards aka deleting words instead of writing any new ones.
(2) This is obviously very different from having to write 10.000 words and you’ve no idea what’s going to happen.
(3) Namely german book pricing regulations and, should I actually sell anything – how does this work with taxes then? Am I sending it off to a professional editor? What price do I need to set to make revenue? How many copies do I need to sell to break even with the costs? Just e-books or using a POD service too? Aaaaaah.

cover reveal and a time line

Despite the fact that I design stuff on a daily basis (and get so much praise for it that sometimes leaves me uncomfortable), I have the hardest time to come up with designs for my own things. There have been moments when I nearly asked my designer friends to take over. I know what I want, but it takes a hell of a long time to actually look like it. And lots of research. I wanted something minimalistic (1), vaguely retro (2) and it should work without any photographs. I think I finally managed to put all of this into one cover:

beginnings cover

You might’ve noticed that it says “Book One” there – as it is growing into a full book, I think it deserves its rightful place where it belongs in the series: At the beginning. 😛 Speaking of growing into a full book – I decided to keep writing through all of June, edit and proofread in July and publish early in August. For once I’m wise and don’t put down any dates, as I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know me…

Well, I guess I better use my remaining vacation time to give the short stories matching covers now too, the Prologue is way overdue for a relaunch anyway.

(1) Mostly because opulence is a lot harder to pull off well.
(2) The whole thing is set in some sort of alternate 1950s after all… although I still struggle to make this visible, as books are not, uhm, movies.