Threadwalkers

Threadwalkers Blog Tour Day 5!

It’s been a whirlwind week, but here we are at the last day of the virtual book tour! I had fun doing this, and hope you enjoyed reading the bits from other folks, and guest posts I wrote.

With no more ado…

Blog Tour Links for March 9

  • Here’s a review of Threadwalkers from SMADA. [read more]
  • And here’s another guest post I wrote over at OD Book Reviews! [read more]

Thanks so much to everyone who hosted me, reviewed the book, or generally promoted it this week. I truly appreciate it and am glad that so many of you enjoyed my time travel story!

Hey, Sailor

For my last bonus-share of the week, I figured I’d leave a serendipitous photo that I happened to grab today: J in his dress blues!

jo and jared in uniform

He had an event today that required him to be all dressed up, and even though I didn’t attend, I took advantage of the opportunity when he got home to (with the help of my remote shutter) grab a couple of photos. 🙂

Threadwalkers

Threadwalkers Blog Tour Days 3 & 4

Blog Tour Links for March 7 & 8:

It’s a bit quieter these two days, but we’re making up for it with quality content!

  • I wrote a guest post over on SuperCaliReader about dealing with writer’s block, which is probably my most-asked question. [read more]
  • Here’s an interview with Butterfly-o-Meter Books where you can learn fun things like why I don’t have a unicorn in my backyard. [read more]

Upping My Vintage Style Levels

I’ve been looking to add purple (especially lavender!) to my wardrobe for several years, and pastel yellow and pink are my favorite colors to wear, so you can maybe imagine how excited I am to see all three of these colors turning up this spring in stores!

28876362_10105551977519368_671528388_o

I also took an extra level in Vintage Style with this fab necklace from the 60s (an etsy find!) and a dolman that’s all paisly pink and periwinkle goodness.

Threadwalkers, wildlife watching

Threadwalkers Blog Tour: day 2

It’s Tuesday, so welcome to DAY TWO of the Threadwalkers blog tour, aka virtual book tour. Yay!

Blog Tour Links for March 6:

  • Here is a lovely review from Arkham Reviews to check out. [read more]
  • This is another review from Married to Books. [read more]
  • An excerpt of Threadwalkers is available over on FirstBookLove [read more]
  • Finally, a review from Birdie’s Bibliotheca. [read more]

Come back tomorrow for the next round!

Backyard shenanigans

One of the things I’m enjoying this week is the DRAMA of the hummingbirds in my backyard. They’ve fought over the feeder since day one (and I’m seriously thinking about getting a second one just so everybody will calm down a little) but the new development this week is that A) they aren’t afraid of me anymore so they are fighting above and around my head and B) they figured out they could perch on the decorative pieces I have hanging from the porch ceiling and stand guard over their preferred feeder spots.

hummer on art

So cute and ridiculous! (It’s not a great photo but at least you can see one of the loudest of my soap opera cast.)

Threadwalkers

Threadwalkers Blog Tour Day 1

It’s Monday, which means it’s DAY ONE of the Threadwalkers blog tour, aka virtual book tour. Yay!

Blog Tour Links for March 5:

  • Here’s a short review with a giveaway attached for a $25 Amazon gift card from The British Bookworm [read more]
  • Here’s an interview I did with The Cover Contessa. If you’ve ever wanted to know what my dream job as a child was or five things that make me sad, this is the one for you. [read more]
  • Finally, here’s a very kind review from Stephanie at Literary Flits who is also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! [read more]

Snaps from a daytrip up the mountain

winter valley

Sunday afternoon 3 friends and I ventured into the east San Diego county mountains to meander around Julian and to enjoy the winding roads and gorgeous overlooks. We saw a distant Salton Sea and desert and snow and it was lovely.

4 friends

Two of these ladies move away this year and I’m so sad to see them go. It’s part of life, these hellos and goodbyes, but this hello has been entirely too short.

Threadwalkers, updates

March news, links, and a blog tour, OH MY!

Oh HEY. It’s March. Where did February go??

It felt like January took roughly 11.3 years to get through and then I blinked and it was March 1st. WOW.

Because time got away from me, there are a couple of links that you may have missed.

Author Interview

First, I had a fantastic time chatting about Threadwalkers with Jennifer Holmquist, aka Magic Cat Jenny, over on her YouTube channel:

Book Review

Second, Time Travel Nexus published a lovely review of Threadwalkers earlier this week, which you can read here.

Don’t forget you can always find reviews, media, and bonus content on the Media and Bonus Content page of this site. 🙂

(Vitural) Book Tour

Third, I’m going on (virtual) tour! Starting next week, I’ll be hanging out on various book blogs in the form of guest posts and interviews, and there will be many more reviews! If you want to follow along, here’s the planned schedule:

March 5th

March 6th

March 7th

March 8th

March 9th

So I’ll be seeing you a lot next week as I try to stay on top of these. I’ll also link back to these sites each day as the posts go live so they are easy to find.

#BYJoStraw Project

In other, non-Threadwalkers news, I’ve started a new instagram account to document a project I’m doing this term for my master’s program. I was challenged to find something to promote biodiversity, so I decided to give up single-use plastic straws! In the US alone, we go through an estimated 500 million straws A DAY. They can’t be recycled and it takes each one 200 years to decompose. YIKES. I ordered a glass straw from Simply Straws, and honestly, it’s been SO much fun to use! I take it with me everywhere in its cloth sleeve, and it’s got a cleaning brush and everything. Here’s my straw in action:

If you want one of your own, you can use my referral link to Simply Straws for 25% off your first purchase. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will let you know that I also get rewards when you use the link. So basically we both save money and there’s less plastic pollution. It’s a win-win-win.

So there’s the full update! In theory I’ll be back on Monday with links to FUN THINGS! Woot!

updates

New Year, New State

Well, here we are.

It’s 2018, we’ve moved halfway across the country, and life is beginning to show the signs of settling back into some sense of normalcy in our household. J went back to work and I am waiting on school to start and generally speaking we’ve got an idea of the next few months.

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen some of our recent local adventures, now that we’re back in southern California.

View this post on Instagram

Silver and gold sunset

A post shared by Joanna (@joannavolavka) on

It’s been good to be out of the cold weather, and I can already feel my mental health improving. It also helps that not only do I have friends still here, but I actually have, somehow, more friends here than I did when we left three years ago. Some have moved here and others have naturally grown from acquaintances to friends from just being in my broader circle, and I’m grateful for all of them. And, unlike my usual moves where I don’t have a niche (which is an ongoing issue for military spouses, and one that I should probably blog about separately), I also have a cohort to join and which has already been welcoming and happy to meet me.

So all in all, things are good.

And what of the writing?

Well, I’m working on a couple of things. The first is a fresh media push for THREADWALKERS, including a local book launch sometime in the next couple of months. (I’m seeking book bloggers/vloggers/etc for reviews and interviews and all, so if you are interested or know someone who is, please get in touch!)

I’m also working on the next book… It’s not a follow-up to THREADWALKERS but a new thing entirely. It started as a pet project to get some ideas out of my head but has grown into a thing that might turn into a Book. We will see. There’s still a lot of work to do.

What can you expect in 2018 from me?

  • I’ll be going to some conventions this year (would a schedule on my About page be of interest?).
  • New content related to military spouse life.
  • New content related to writing.
  • More travelogue things because you know I won’t stop traveling and that’s what I enjoy writing about here the most.

So there’s the update! If there’s anything you’d like to know more about, just get in touch! 

Threadwalkers

Threadwalkers GIVEAWAY and Other News!

HELLO.

This will be a short post, but it’s got IMPORTANT INFORMATION.

FIRST: Threadwalkers is now available at Barnes & Noble’s website! Woo hoo! This also means you should be able to request it at your local indie bookstore now. I’ll have details on that in the next few weeks.

SECOND: Starting in about a week, I will be taking a 2-3 week hiatus from blogging as we relocate and such.

THIRD: I am currently in the running to be featured on a podcast to promote the book! You can vote for me once every 7 days right over here!

FOURTH: Threadwalkers GIVEAWAY!

I’m hosting a giveaway for 3 SIGNED copies over on Goodreads! Head over now to check it out and enter to win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Threadwalkers by Joanna Volavka

Threadwalkers

by Joanna Volavka

Giveaway ends December 15, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/268274

navy life

Choosing Military Housing

So.

We’re moving back into military housing.

If you remember the last time we did this, you might wonder why we made this decision again, so I’m going to walk you through the thought process. The pros, the cons, and why we ultimately went this route (at least for now) may help you through your own housing choices.

Or it might be ridiculously dull.

Either way, it’s what you get this week.

Pros of Military Housing

No deposit necessary. Depending on your budget, this can make a huge difference. You don’t have to pay the first month’s rent up front, either, just the pro-rated dates for the month you move in and then allotments come straight from military pay. Easy peasy.

Flat rate rent. There aren’t going to be any unexpected rent hikes. It also usually includes all of your utilities, which is fantastic when you’re running air conditioning in southern California.

A military-friendly community. There’s a lot to be said for a community of people who understand things like deployments and weird moving schedules and the like. (This isn’t really a factor for me, but for many people it’s a huge check in the PRO list.)

It’s bigger on the inside. Okay, not really, but often with military housing you can get more space than you’d be able to afford on the civilian rental side. This isn’t always true, though (case in point: Great Lakes housing is TINY.)

Cons of Military Housing

A military-only community. This may not seem like a con to some people, but I prefer living with a mix of neighbors, rather than all military. The vibe is different, as are the lifestyles.

High turnover in your neighborhood. It comes with the turf. People transfer all the time. Your neighbors won’t stay consistent. The good news is that a bad neighbor may very well leave soon. The bad news is the good neighbor will, too.

Flat rate rent is your whole Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Even though rent won’t change on you suddenly, it will probably take your whole BAH. For some people this is a deal breaker.

Not much pet friendly space. One thing we run into a lot is that instead of taking pets on a case-by-case basis, much military housing is blanket “pet friendly” in this neighborhood and “no pets allowed” in that one. It severely limits options* with our cats, and means we’re only allowed to live in certain neighborhoods. These also tend to be the older, less up-to-date homes.

Choosing Military Housing

So why did we choose military housing? The current housing market in San Diego is ideal for sellers, which means renters (like we would be) run a high risk of having a rental sold and having to pay out of pocket to move. We did that in Chicago and don’t want to do it again right away.

We don’t want to live an hour out of town. That housing market I mentioned? Rent prices have gone up by ~$600+ a month since we were there 3 years ago, and we’ve been mostly priced out of the San Diego neighborhoods we would have wanted to live in.

We’re moving over the holidays, and trying to get in touch with agents or owners who can show us homes and take the time we need would be a challenge in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

We’ve also been in apartments and condos for most of the last decade (with a 3 year exception in a duplex home), and are ready to not share walls (or floors or ceilings) with other people for a little while. Given that we wanted a little more space, it was worth asking the question, and sure enough they offered us a (pet friendly!) house that’s big enough for what we need and only about a 10-15 minute drive from the base.

….so we’ve got a house!

We’re moving in at the end of December, and it’s SUCH a relief to know we have a place to go and don’t have to go through the house-hunting process this go-round. If we stay in San Diego longer than 3 years, I don’t know that we’ll stay in military housing, but for now it’s a good fit for our current situation.

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*Military families are notorious for ditching pets when they PCS, and this policy does NOT help– making it more difficult to find housing because you have a pet is setting some animals up for being dumped. But that’s a soapbox for another day.

navy life

We’re moving in HOW many days??

Somehow even though I’ve been counting down the months until we would move away from Chicago since, oh, 35 months out (what can I say, winter is NOT my favorite thing and there’s a LOT of it up here), this move feels like it snuck on me.

Maybe it’s because we just moved into the current place a year and a half ago. Maybe it’s because I’ve just got so many plates spinning (working and booking and grad schooling and bears*, oh my!) Or maybe it’s that this move isn’t like most of our moves before it, in that we’re going to a place we already know (and have friends waiting for us there) and that we already have a place to live (I’ll get back to that) and that I’ve already got my grad school program lined up to move with me and it has (so far) been a really seamless transition.

In any case, we leave Chicago in 28 days. Exactly 4 weeks from today. As in, 4 weeks from now we will be halfway to our first stop in Missouri and Leena will probably have puked at least once and I’ll already be regretting taking a road trip with cats but it’s too cold to fly with them and we still have to move the car so what can you do anyway except pack them and drive for 4 days straight and hope for the best.

All the same, I’m starting to feel it this week as we begin to experience the “Chicago lasts” before the move. We went to our last (probably, as nothing else is planned) theater show this weekend with the 40th anniversary run of A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre.

It’s a very good production and the adaptation infuses enough humor to balance the more serious bits, and the set pieces are gorgeous. It helps that the Goodman is just around the corner from the Christkindlmarket, which opened this weekend, too. I got my gingerbread and cider fix before the show, though I suspect that was not, in fact, our last visit to that particular place.

It’s not all fun stuff, though. I’m planning for my last day at work, my last day at Shedd, scheduling the last vet visit for the kitties, and just did the last big deep clean before we vacate our current place, too.

Then there are the unknown lasts that are a little weirder, harder to pin down. Like when it snowed two Fridays ago and it occurred to me that it might be the last snow we see here (and how much I hope it doesn’t snow on the day we load the moving truck). It might not be the last one, but you never know.

I do know it won’t be the last time I’m in Chicago, though. While I doubt we will ever live here again (see the aforementioned thing about winter), I have friends here I need to see sometimes. But I am definitely looking forward to being a tourist here and not a resident.

The firsts in San Diego are a little different. We’ll see the house we’re moving into for the first time in about a month, for instance. But moving back to a place? This is the first time we’ve ever done that, and it’s actually really nice. I don’t have to find a new vet, a new dentist, a new mechanic– I’ve already got them all!

And speaking of that new house– we’re also doing a thing we’ve never done and moving into a house we rented sight-unseen. That’s because we’re heading back into military housing (though a VERY different scenario than the last time we lived in it). The thought process (and application process, etc) will be a blog post for another day. But we know where we are going and might actually have our first door-to-door move, with our belongings never going into storage. That would be so good.

So that’s it. A lot of lasts and a lot of firsts and in about a month I get to put my parka into long term storage.

I am SO ready.

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*No bears are actually involved in my life currently**, but it seemed the thing to say. Not even the Bears, which will likely be the only one of Chicago’s pro sports teams from my List that I won’t get to see. Cubs, Sox, Hawks, and Bulls– check! But no Bears. Oh, well.

**I feel like I need to stipulate that there are currently no bears because, being a zoo person, particularly who likes working with carnivores***, bears are always an option. And who doesn’t like bears??****

***Bears are omnivores. But you get where I’m going with it. I’m definitely a “lions and tigers and bears” person. And also wolves and sharks and snow leopards. Especially the snow leopards.

****If you don’t like bears, I don’t understand. I mean, have you SEEN a bear?

image source: UNFILTERED: The Great Bear Rainforest Agreement by Ian McAllister
Travel, wildlife watching

Birthday Camping Weekend in the UP

I’m a month late posting about it, but for my birthday last month, we went camping in the Michigan Upper Peninsula and got an early taste of fall that was so much fun.

We camped in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which is home to the second biggest freshwater waterfall to the east of the Mississippi River (the biggest, of course, being Niagara). Our site was near the Lower Falls, and when the breeze was still we could hear the waterfall in our tent at night.

There is a nice hike between the Upper and Lower Falls, but there are also parking lots and short trails with access points and overlooks if you don’t want to hike the 5ish miles (or, as is the case with our visit, if it’s been raining and the trail is too muddy to deal with).

The leaves were just coming into the start of their peak, and the ones around the waterfalls were mostly golden with a few shots of red thrown in. The roads between the UP towns had more autumn color, and I kept stopping the car to take photos.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park is also home to the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery, which is located inside the park. They’ve got a restaurant and shop, and you can sit outside on their huge porch in rocking chairs surrounding a cozy open-air fireplace while waiting to be seated.

One of the days we were there, we visited Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The Shipwreck Museum has artifacts from about a dozen shipwrecks from Lake Superior, and stories about what brought the various vessels down.

You can also visit the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper’s quarters, learn about the history of lifesaving efforts on the point, and walk along the beach.

The museum’s signature piece is, of course, the bell of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, from the 1975 shipwreck immortalized in song by Gordon Lightfoot (which plays nearly on a loop in some parts of the museum). The bell was brought to the surface in 1995, and serves as a memorial for the men who were lost.

The other highlight of the trip for me was a visit to Deer Ranch in St. Ignace. Not only is St. Ignace a quaint, adorable fishing village with plenty of shops and restaurants (and Mackinac Island Fudge to boot), but it’s home to the oldest white-tail deer ranch in the US. For just $5 you can visit the deer, and for $1 more you can get a cup of food (we had carrots and apples).

When you walk through the ranch, there are barns and runs for the fawns, a huge yard for the older does, and then several wooded lots in the back for the adult resident deer, including some leucistic (white morph) deer! Since they are hand-reared, they are pretty comfortable with humans, and many of them enjoyed having their ears and backs petted. (I made so many deer friends!)

And of course there were meals in little local breakfast places and bakeries and cooking on the campfire and all the usual things that make camping so fun. We’ve enjoyed escaping to Michigan, and particularly the UP, during our time in Chicago. While I’m looking forward to getting back to the west coast, the north in summer and fall is quite nice.