Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday’s Muse = I Got the Point—and It Hurts!

I stabbed myself in the hand yesterday. Yes, this takes amazing talent, I know. Let me explain my stupidity. A few months ago, I purchased one of those forever sharp knife sets. Yesterday I decided to open it. I took out all the knives, but still felt something in the box. I put my right hand under the opening so whatever was inside could fall into my open palm and not onto my glass stovetop. I tipped the box upside down and shook it a little to dislodge the object stuck inside. Out came the fillet knife--yeah, the real sharp, pointy one—and straight into my hand. OUCH!!

It came right back out again, so I’m not sure how far it actually went in, but it hurt and bled quite a bit. I imagine it wasn’t too far in since the stab wound is small (about 1/8”), but the pain begs to differ. At least it’s off on the fleshy part about an inch beneath my pinky finger and not in the center of my palm. For some reason, thinking this makes me feel better.

In my defense, all of the other knives in the box were also in their own individual boxes so I had no idea there was a box-less instrument of pain awaiting me. Also, there were orange juice drinking things in the box. So I really wasn’t expecting to be wounded by whatever would fall out of the box. Still, I should have at least looked inside before shaking the box over my hand. S-T-U-P-I-D.

So, I’m in pain and it radiates out from the wound to share the agony with my pinky finger and on down my wrist, but I refuse to let it win. And, after reading this Monday’s Muse worthy post from Dawn Metcalf, I’m inspired to hope I can use this pain in my writing someday (though I admit it wasn’t something that crossed my mind before reading the post—the only thing on my mind in relation to the incident was PAIN! Owie, owie, owie).

I’m still typing in spite of the aching (though a bit more slowly with lots of breaks). And I still graded the spelling papers for K’s class last night (that hurt much worse than typing—something about the way I needed to hold the pen, I guess). And today I’m going to (hopefully) finish up a critique I’ve been doing and then dive back into my own writing again.

So, how has your week before Christmas started? Hopefully not with any stabbing pain.


Write on!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Thursday Things

Here’s what I’ve been up to the last three days.

after taping ceilingbefore painting walls

We hired someone to do the tape and texture on the walls. I had researched how to do it myself, but since I hadn’t ever done it, I decided it might not be the best idea for me to try. The professional we hired finished up on Saturday so I started working (you can see some of my work in the picture showing the textured wall.

Tuesday I painted the ceiling—it’s a very deep purple color.

after painted ceilingafter painted celing close up

On Wednesday I painted the walls.

after painted walls

They’re a lighter purple color—yes, my favorite color is purple.

Today I put down the floor. I used the brown paper floor method—except I didn’t use brown paper. I saw some awesome colored paper at Home Depot and couldn’t resist using it. Not only is it pretty, but I don’t have to stain the floor so I save some time.

Glue for floorpaper for floor

These are the supplies I used. Elmer’s Glue-All and the pretty mauve paper. I mixed the glue with water (3 parts water to one part glue) then used a paintbrush to apply the glue mixture to the floor. I tore off pieces of paper and wadded them up. Then the crumpled up papers went into the glue and were spread out on the floor. I used the paintbrush to smooth it out (I overlapped the pieces) and apply a topcoat of glue.

And here’s the result of my day’s work:

finished floor

Tomorrow I start adding the water-based polyurethane and once it’s all dry my floor will be finished. Then I’ll need to add the trim around the base of the walls and get the ceiling fan installed. Once that’s all done, I can start moving in my craft and writing stuff. YAY!!

Create on!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday’s Five

1. National Novel Writing Month is over (well, at midnight tonight). It was a complete bust for me this year. With all the family drama going on, I didn’t manage to get remotely close to 50,000 words. Oh well. I do have some writing done at least. Maybe next year.

2. Family drama—I’m tired of it. That is all.

3. The writing/craft room is ready for painting! The walls have been taped and textured by a professional. I decided it was beyond me even though I got an e-book and watched videos to learn how to do it. I’ll try my hand at taping and texturing on a less important project—like a closet that no one will ever see or something. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to getting the walls painted, but after the walls are painted, I’ll do the floor and then have the ceiling fan installed (not by me since I’d probably electrocute myself), and I’ll be all ready to move in! Yay. Okay—“move in” makes it sound like I’m planning to live there. I’m not. Though it may seem like it to my family. hee hee hee

4. I can’t believe tomorrow will be December! Holy mistletoe! Where did the time go? Christmas will be here in 25 short days. YIKES! The kids want to decorate the house tomorrow. I’m not ready to dig out the decorations. First of all, I have to plan these things. It’s not like I can just get the decorations and start throwing them around the house (even though the finished results may look like I did). No, my friends. This takes planning. I have to rearrange the entire living room to accommodate the tree—because it HAS to be in front of the window so it can be seen from the street. It’s like an unwritten law or something (well, it should be). And the couch is under the window right now—and I have no idea where I’ll move it. Last year, we took the couch completely out of the house (it was a different couch) and were couch-less for the holidays. I DON’T want that again. I like having somewhere to sit.

5. The kids made bows and arrows out of sticks from the hedges hubby cut. They even got bird feathers (ones the macaw and cockatiel had discarded) to tie on the arrows. The bows and arrows work surprisingly well. I made them swear NOT to shoot them at any living thing upon pain of me taking away and breaking their bows and arrows. They promised. I hope the threat of losing all their hard work is enough to make them keep their promise. And hopefully they’ll be to busy NOT shooting at living things to bug me about decorating the house tomorrow.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Distractions on!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Words on Wednesday . . . even though it’s Tuesday

I won't be here tomorrow and wanted to get at least one post in this week. I'm heading out on a field trip with K in the morning and will be gone until late afternoon/early evening (yeah, it's a long one). We'll likely be exhausted since the trip involves some hiking so I doubt I'll feel like blogging. So you get Wednesday's post tonight. Lucky you? ;-)

Things have been insane here! My NaNo dreams will NOT be coming true. I’ve had absolutely no time for writing.

Among the many other crazy things going on, we ended up pulling J out of middle school and enrolling her in an online school. Trying to get things organized and learning the ropes of how everything works (still trying to learn it all) has taken up the majority of my time.

J started the online course today but it’s basically introduction and assessment testing for this week. The school supplies (books, etc.) are on their way but probably won’t get here until next week or later.

Since she’s older, she should be able to do most of it on her own with a little assistance from me (I’m her “Learning Coach”), but for now, it’s taking both of us to get it figured out. Some of the classes/lessons will require some advanced preparation on my part, but this isn’t a “homeschool” situation. It’s a virtual academy so she has been assigned a teacher to help her along the way.

I really hope it works for her—and for me. But right now it’s frustrating. We’ll see how it goes.

With that and the sickness that has been invading my home (one thing after another), I’m ready to pull my hair out—or at least go to the salon and have it cut off. But I’m trying to resist temptation. I always want to have long hair until I get long hair and then I start hating it and run and get it cut shorter and then I wish I had long hair again. It’s a vicious cycle.

So, no writing, a few rejections here and there (one on a full—ouch), and sending out more submissions in between juggling housework, school arrangements, and other life adventures—that’s my life right now.

Hope all is well with everyone. I haven’t had a chance to drop by your blogs, and I miss you all!! Here’s hoping I get more time soon!

Write Live on.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thursday Things

1. Today is the start of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNo or NaNoWriMo). I do plan to participate, but I’m not sure I’ll get much writing done today.

2. I have all three kids home today due to various illness. K finally got the sore throat and fever the other two had. JR has a sore throat and stomach ache (and he didn’t even eat a bunch of Halloween candy) and J has stomach ache and vomiting (she didn’t eat Halloween candy either). *sigh* For some reason, the kids always get sick when the weather changes.

3. J asked me about doing online schooling yesterday. She’s in 7th grade this year, but doesn’t like it much. We are looking into it and considering allowing her to enroll in online school. We’ll see.

4. I’m glad to see some of my east coast friends are getting back online after the hurricane/storm/mess. It’s also good to see some agents/agencies getting back online too.

5. And I read the news about the Penguin/Random House merger yesterday. There are those who don’t like it and those who do. I’m not sure what to think.

What are your thoughts on the merger?

Hope you have a great Thursday and an amazing start to a brand new month!!

Write on!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Four on Friday

1. The kids have been sick most of the week. This means I haven’t been able to do much writing wise. But two of the three went back to school today, and I’m out in my shed ready to get some work done (even though most of the day is gone).

2. My father-in-law is down in Scottsdale today to be seen by a specialist. For those who don’t know, he has bladder cancer. We aren’t sure what stage it is at this point, but they are talking about removing his bladder—hopefully we’ll know more after the appointment today.

3. I can’t believe it’s almost November! Crazy! It’s chilly here today with a slight wind blowing—which makes it feel colder than it probably is. Though it’s been cold in the mornings, the afternoons usually warm up, so this is quite a change. It always happens just in time for the kids to freeze while dressed in their Halloween costumes. Then it usually warms back up again for a bit. I was hopeful that it would stay warm this year, but I should have known better.

4. We don’t have any plans for this weekend—though we may go visit FIL if they keep him down there for surgery instead of having him come back at another time. We’ll see.

What about you? Any plans for this weekend? Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy every  minute of it!

Have a weekend full of awesome!


Write/or whatever on!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

1. I finished my revisions, came up with a new title, and sent off the full MG manuscript to the editor and the agent who requested it. Now I wait to hear back. I also queried a few other agents. Usually I’d be obsessively checking my inbox. But I’m not. Weird. I was all geared up to jump into the new MG novel (the one I started writing and then stopped to go back to work on revisions), but I’ve had sick kids since last Friday. I love my kids, but it’s so hard to get any writing done when they’re home—especially when they’re sick. I take the youngest to the doctor later this morning.

2. I have a headache today. Probably some of it is from lack of sleep, and the rest is because I’m trying to wear contacts again—and there’s trouble getting the right eye’s contact to stay in place. I may end up having to go for the hard lenses again (gas permeable). I was really hoping to wear soft lenses—stupid astigmatism.

3. Progress on the shed:

A friend of hubby’s came last Wednesday to help. Because of him, all the sheetrock is up! Hooray!!

And the “doggy door” has gone from this:

before doggy door

to this:

after doggy door insideafter doggy door

The door has gone from this:

before light switchafter outside

to this:

after inside doorafter outside door

As you can see, the motion sensor light is also installed (that little thing in the upper left corner of the outside door picture—hubby installed it himself).

So, there’s still the tape and texture to be done, walls to be painted, ceiling fan to be installed, and floors to be done. Lots of work, but it’s looking more and more like a real workplace! After I take JR to the doctor, I hope to hide away in this lovely space and get a bit of writing done today—if the kids will let me. If it’s still a bit chilly out there, I have this little heater to help keep me warm.

after heater to keep warm

It may not look like much, but it does a great job of heating up this little space.

Hope you all have a Terrific Tuesday!

Write on!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday’s Muse

Today’s muse comes from this super inspiring post on the Operation Awesome blog. The post talks about how writers are strong and not neurotic. Speaking for myself, I do tend to be obsessive about certain things—like checking my email, folding my towels a certain way, loading the dishwasher a certain way—but I don’t consider myself neurotic. The Operation Awesome post points out that it takes strength and bravery and resilience to be a writer.

I agree. It’s hard to sit in front of a blank page and create a world and characters and storyline to tie them all together. And after the writing comes the submitting—which is often harder than writing the work in the first place. And the waiting—oh the waiting!!

And when the replies do start rolling in 95% (give or take) will likely be rejections. Does the writer give up? Okay, some might, but those who don’t will continue to send out more queries. Then they will write more work, send it out, and start all over again until someday they break through. An agent signing or book deal! Hooray!

But it doesn’t end there. The book gets published and the reviews start rolling in. Not all of them will be “I loved this” and that’s not always easy to take either. But the writer doesn’t give up. They write more and publish more (hopefully) and take the good with the bad.

And there WILL be bad. We’ve all had those days and will likely have more on our road to publication (and beyond). It’s okay to feel down now and then. The trick is not to stay down! We have to pick ourselves up and get back to work.

If our dreams are slammed against the harsh reality wall of the world and shattered into millions of pieces, we must pick them up, reshape them, and make ourselves a new dream!

I think an excerpt from a song in Disney’s Cinderella says it best:

“No matter how your heart is grieving

If you keep on believing

The dream that you wish will come true.”


Write and Dream on!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fixing-up Friday

As many of you know, we’ve been fixing up the shed in preparation to turn it into a craft/writing room for me. Yesterday was a glorious day for the electrician came and fixed the old wiring (it wasn’t right) and installed new outlets and a base for a ceiling fan/light set. YAY!!

Here are some before and after pictures:

Before and after light fixture (sorry about the light being on during the before shot):

before lightafter lightafter light switch

As you can see, he moved the light over a bit so it’s more in the center of the room. He also installed a new switch system. One switch for the light, one for the fan, and one for the outside light (which he also set up—pictured later in post).

There were a total of two outlet boxes in the shed. One was in the corner by the door and the other was in the ceiling (yes, in the ceiling—it was to plug the light into because the light wasn’t wired—just a plug in). Before and after shots of the corner outlet area:

before corner outletafter corner outlet

He left the corner outlet and put it on a circuit all its own so it can be used for the portable heating/cooling unit I’ll be using at first. Having it on its own circuit means I won’t have any dimming lights or blown circuits when I want to be cool/warm. He also installed a new outlet on the adjoining wall—because that’s where I plan to have my computer set-up.

The back wall has a built-in work bench area. I debated taking it out, but decided I’d leave it (though we’re going to improve it) so I can use it for my crafting. Before and after shots of the back wall.

before bench areaafter back wall

He installed three outlet boxes so I’ll have plenty of power for my sewing machines, glue guns, blender, iron, etc. Yay crafts!! Right now I’ve got my laptop on it (as you can see) and am ready for some revisions (including bag of Snickers—thanks to Kimberley Griffiths-Little)!

Tomorrow is supposed to be the day for insulating and walls. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping all goes well and we can at least get the place insulated and the sheetrock up—maybe get the texturing done. But if the texturing doesn’t get done, I’m hoping the door will get fixed, and also the “doggy door” closed off.

Here’s the current door and doggy door areas:

after outsidebefore doggy door

The fixture set-up to the left of the door is for the outside motion sensor light (which will be installed at a later date). This is so I don’t kill myself when trying to go back to the house after a long day of writing/crafting (I’ve been out here writing even though the building isn’t complete and, let me tell you, trying to navigate in the dark isn’t fun). The doggy door is currently nailed shut by a board, but, as you can see, light and air still moves in around it (and it’s a bit chilly today—brrr—I’m wearing a jacket to keep warm).

So things are progressing! The floor will be completely redone after everything else is taken care of (including the painting). I hope the floor turns out as glorious as I’m imagining (I’m doing it myself—more on that later).

Now I’m going to eat Snickers and drink my water (the red bottle in the pictures) and get some revising going (hoping to finish today).

Write on!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Monday’s Muse

I don’t have a link to an inspiring post because today’s inspiration comes from the SCBWI AZ “Welcome to Our House Conference” I attended on Saturday.

It was great! I learned quite a bit about marketing and MG and YA fantasy and so much more. Karen Grencik from Red Fox Literary had a great list of reasons you get rejected. Joanna Cardenas from Viking busted some publishing myths. Liz Pelletier walked us through what happens from the time we query to when a book is published. We had some amazing panel discussions and even more amazing break out sessions. Unfortunately, we could only choose three—though I would have attended all of them if I could have.

Making a choice was tough, but I decided to attend Jordan Hamessley’s MG & Chapter Books craft session. She was great, and I changed my plans for the second session to stick around and attend her shop talk session about Penguin Publishers. For the third and final session, I went to Joanna Cardenas shop talk session to find out more about Viking Children’s Books.

After lunch we had great fun learning about marketing from Bobbie Combs (We Love Children’s Books—Independent publishing consultant) and learning from the panel as they did the first look/first page.

Conferences are a great source of learning and a great way to connect with people. If you haven’t attended a conference, you should try to! I haven’t yet made it to one of the “big” SCBWI conferences (summer and winter), but hope to one of these days.

This local conference was a huge inspiration, and I can only imagine how much more inspiring it must be to attend a huge SCBWI conference. The conference was just what I needed to give me a bit of extra excitement. We all know writing can be a solitary, lonely thing. Sure we have online or in-person critique groups (or both), but there’s something about a large gathering of fellow writers and industry professionals coming together to learn and grow that really inspires.

Plus I got to meet Angela Fox—I’ve been friends with her online for years, but had never met her in person until Saturday. She’s hilarious!!

And then there was the end of the conference where I was blessed to get a critique of my first chapter (MG Fantasy) and have a face-to-face meeting with one of the editors (I’m not saying which one). It was great to talk with her—and she loved my work—which is always nice to hear. Very uplifting and inspiring—especially since she requested I send her the full MS as soon as I’m done revising (hopefully by the end of the week).

Inspiration = Writing Conferences

Have you been inspired lately? If so, what inspired you? If not, get out there and find some inspiration!

Write on.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday’s Muse

Another month has passed away and a new month is born. What wonderful things will October have in store? Only the passing of each day will tell. On this wonderful morning, the muse brings inspiration from the always inspiring Dawn Metcalf’s post, "The Little Successes."

The inspiration: Harvest Time

Writing a book is like gardening. You plant, tend, and ultimately harvest the fruits of your labors. In the case of writing, the harvest is often publication (though it varies with your own goals).

In "real" life, a garden is planted in the spring (usually after the last frost has passed), grown during the summer, and harvested in the fall. It would be nice if our writing mirrored this relatively short time frame, but things in the writing world move more slowly (most of the time). Still, there is a season for everything.


The idea forms in our minds. Depending on the kind of writer, it’s either jumped right into and the writing begins (pantsters) or planned out in some form of outline or something (plotters)—or sometimes a combination of both (pantsplotters). Whatever the method, the writing happens at this stage. It’s a tough time, preparing the soil and getting the seeds into the ground/idea onto paper. But we persevere and get it done. YAY! Go us. Our springtime is over. We did it. Celebrate for a bit and wait for something to grow—in other words, take time away from your freshly written manuscript.


We’ve completed the planting, let the MS rest, and now it’s time to check in with it. Oh, look. There are weeds. It’s time to revise. Pull those weeds out and water the plants that are left. This season tends to last the longest—at least for me. It seems like the novel will never be ready—and it won’t if we don’t let it. Sometimes we just have to stop revising and let it stand on its own. Each writer is different when it comes to this. There are authors who wish they’d revised a scene or sentence even after publication. But you do have to eventually STOP revising if you ever want to be published.

Just as there are certain vegetables/fruits that can be harvested in summer, so too can you do a bit of light harvesting on your MS. Light harvesting is when you send out the manuscript to agents/editors. If you’ve planted and tended right, your manuscript should attract a few nibbles (requests for more) or, if you’re lucky, an all out feast (offer). But it’s not harvest time until you’ve landed a contract with a publishing house. This is why summer is the longest season.


*Disclaimer: I’m still stuck in Summer so I don’t have any personal experience with this season—I’m going by my vicarious living experience here*

Oh the joys! The planting and tending are over. You (or your agent) sent it out and landed a contract. It’s time to harvest that garden/manuscript. This is where you work on the line edits your editor has given. You make the suggested changes (or not), send off the completed manuscript (as completed as you can get it—remember, you have to stop revising sometime), and your work is done. The gardening is finished. Hooray!

Or is it finished?

Yes, you’ve reaped all you can from that particular garden, but, just like “real” gardening, it will soon be time to plant another one. I wouldn’t advise jumping right in—unless you have a deadline or something. Do as Dawn Metcalf suggests (you read that post I linked to, right?) and take some time to breathe. Enjoy the world around you, involve yourself in a different form of creativity. Read that book (or books) that have been tempting you from your to-be-read pile.

And, when it’s time for Spring again (this varies by writer—YOU, not Mother Nature decides when the writing spring arrives), plant a garden and start all over again.

Write on!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing Words on Wednesday

Sylvia Plath said, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

This quote hit home for me the other day and gave me a light bulb moment. First of all, for those of you who don’t know, I used to do quite a bit of acting in high school, college, and in the community theatre in my hometown (there are pictures floating around on Facebook to prove it). One of the plays I performed was called “The Nagging Doubt” (or “Nagging Doubt”). I believe it was a one act play, but I can’t remember the author. I do remember it was a play with only two characters. My best friend, Christi, and I performed it. I played the main character and Christi was my self-doubt. The MC wanted to go to a party or something, but the doubt kept knocking her down and making her feel like crap.

This quote and memory had me looking back over all the times I’ve revised a manuscript (sometimes to death—the manuscript’s death, not mine) and realized how much self-doubt has been involved in my work.

I came to understand I revise for two reasons. First, I revise because so much self-doubt creeps into my work as I write the first draft. It goes like this. I get an idea, I plot it, plan it, love it, build on it, and am incredibly excited about it. I think I’ve got it all laid out. I have a plan. I’m ready.

And then I sit down at my computer and actually start writing. I try to write, not caring that the first draft is crap because I can fix it later. But my problem is that I DO care if it’s crap. I can’t let go and allow the words to spill out onto the paper. I doubt myself too much. Will this be good enough? Is the idea even worth writing? Am I fooling myself? All of these thoughts and more creep in as I write. Sometimes it sends me back to the beginning to revise the novel before it’s even complete. Sometimes it makes me stall out (that thing called writer’s block is really self-doubt)—to the point I stop writing the idea. Which brings me to the second reason I revise.

I revise is not necessarily because the work needs revision, but because I’m too afraid to write. It’s so much easier for me to revise something I’ve already written than it is to sit down and write something new—especially when I’ve stalled out. I know I can write a novel because I’ve done it—but that self-doubt gets me all tied up and stifles my creativity.

Ms. Plath was completely right in saying self-doubt is creativity’s worst enemy. It certainly is for me!

I’ve collected hundreds of story ideas—but have written so few of them. Some ideas are fantastic, others not so much, but all of them should have been written by now—or at least the fantastic ones.

The only thing stopping me from being the kind of happy and successful writer I want to be is my self-doubt.

So, what the heck am I going to do about it? The character in the play I mentioned earlier stood up to her self doubt. She gained the confidence she needed and drove the doubt into the ground. I’m going to follow her example. I’m not going to let doubt drag me down and creep into my work. I’m going to stop doubting.

Yeah, I know, easier said than done. But I’ve identified the problem and that’s the first step to changing it. I’m not saying things will be awesome right away or that I’ll never have any moments of self-doubt again, but I’ve printed out Ms. Plath’s quote and taped it above my computer as a constant reminder. I hope this reminder will help me get that nagging doubt under control.

It’s time for me to let go and allow the first draft to be crap (and—news flash—it’s less likely to be crappy without all that self-doubt creeping into my writing from the get-go). I truly believe that those who have experienced success in writing have done it because they’ve conquered their self-doubt—or at least tamed the beast enough to control it most of the time.

My second step will be sticking with the writing, even if it gets tough. And my third step will be really thinking about each line when I go into revisions. Am I changing the line because I want to change it or is my self-doubt dictating the changes?

I have a plan to tame my beast, and I’m determined to do it. I may have a few bites and scratches when I’m done, but the beast WILL be tamed.

What about you? Have you tamed your self-doubt or is it something you struggle with in your writing? Do you revise because the work truly needs revising? Or do you revise because you lack confidence in your work and in yourself as a writer?

Write on—without doubt!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thoughts on Thursday

It’s been hard to think lately. It’s not that I can’t, but it seems like every time I have a quiet moment and start thinking, a song pops into my head. This usually doesn’t happen to me since I don’t listen to music.

And technically I don’t really listen to this song that pops into my head. It’s all the fault of my children. One daughter in particular, K, keeps playing this song over and over and over and . . . yeah you get the idea. So now this keeps popping into my head complete with the memory of the video that goes along with it—which I’ve seen only once and for some reason it’s burned into my brain forever.

I suppose there are worse songs that could be stuck in my head. And I’m not too proud to admit I thought it was hilarious when I first saw it. But I’m tired of it popping into my head when I’m trying to write or driving in the car or—heck, just all the time.

In the spirit of sharing the misery joy, I give you The Dramatic Song (complete with video) by Toby Turner (a.k.a. Tobuscus).

And if you want more of his songs (and these are less likely to be stuck in your head forever) you should watch his literalization (let’s pretend that’s a word) of movie trailers. J says he did one for the Hobbit movie trailer—I’ll have to watch it later.

And so, my friends, may you enjoy The Dramatic Song as it plays over and over and over in your head. Well, it probably won’t since you don’t have a child who plays it all the time. I’ve practically got the whole thing memorized. What a waste of good brain space. *sigh*

Write Think Tobuscus on.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing Words on Wednesday

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about plotting and writing in general. I’ve looked back on how my writing has changed over the years (yeah, I’ve been doing this a LONG time). When I first started writing, I just wrote words. My manuscripts would include notes to myself either in parentheses or between asterisks. I’m not talking just a little note or reminder to fix something, I’m talking pages and pages of notes where I rambled on about the possibilities of a certain plot twist or general brainstorming.

I still leave myself the occasional note within the manuscript, but it’s usually when I’m done writing for the day and I don’t want to lose the train of thought or where I want to go next in the MS so I’ll leave a note before I save and close the document. This has cut down on my time when I come back to write the next day because I no longer have to read through what I wrote in the previous writing session—I just read my notes and pick up where I left off. Well, I may read the paragraph or a few sentences before my notes to get back into it, but it’s a far cry from the pages and pages of wordage I used to do.

I wrote by the seat of my pants with no plan whatsoever. Then I transitioned to doing my brainstorming sessions in notebooks. I ended up with pages and pages and sometimes several notebooks for one novel. Now this may be due to my obsessive nature; if I had to “cut” an idea or decided to change a plot point, I had to rewrite everything in a new notebook so I wouldn’t be distracted by things crossed out—those scribbles on the page drive me crazy (I even rewrite my lists if I have to cross something out).

And now I have a new method for writing/plotting. I mentioned the 3x5 index card plotting before, but I can’t stress enough how much time and energy this method saves me. If you aren’t familiar with this amazing method, you really must check it out. I first learned about it from the ever amazing Kimberley Griffiths Little. She has some posts on her blog that tell you all about the 3x5 index card method. You can read her first post here, the vlog from WriteOnCon is here

, her follow up post can be found here, and her newest post can be found here (with some quotes from an email I sent her). Blogger seems to be having a  bit of trouble (or maybe it’s just my computer) today so if the links don’t open right away, try again.

Anyway, this method has changed the way I write. Drafting is so much easier. Though the notebook people will be sad to lose my business, it’s awesome to be able to throw away a card instead of having to rewrite entire notebook pages because I changed my mind or the plot or a character changed.

For example, in the new MG I’m writing, the main character’s uncle played a huge roll. I had several cards with info about him, scenes with him, etc. I decided it was more important for my main character that her uncle not play such a large roll. So I went through my cards and took out the ones about the uncle that I needed to change. I rewrote new ones and slipped them into place. SOOO easy! He’s still a character in the book so I did keep the cards with his character information, but the scenes with him were thrown out and re-plotted—with the exception of one scene.

It’s been enlightening to take a look at how my writing process has changed over the years. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s changed the way they write. I don’t think we SHOULD still be writing the way we did when we first started—because we’re supposed to improve our writing. I don’t think our writing can improve if the way we write doesn’t change too. I could be wrong though.

Let’s see if I am! How many of you out there are still writing the same way you were when you FIRST started writing (you don’t have to count the things you wrote as a child—unless you want to)?

Write on.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday Flood

Well, it’s not quite flooding yet, but it has been raining all morning. This put a halt to the field trip to the county fair for which I was to chaperone (for K’s class). K and the rest of the class are pretty bummed about it—but I’m okay with not having to spend the day at the fair . . . I’m evil like that.

It’s not that I don’t love going to the fair—I really do. I mean, there are animals (those who know me understand I’m a huge animal lover) and booths with lots of fun food and crafts and projects that the kids did and events to watch. But I’m okay with staying home today.

Here’s why:

As some of you may know, I’m in the process of cleaning out the storage shed in my back yard so I can transform it into a special place for me to write and do my crafting. Yesterday was the day to get some cleaning out done. But before I could start hauling stuff out of the shed, I had to mow the lawn—cause the grass/weeds were up past my waist (I’m short, but still—waist high grass/weeds are too tall). I wasn’t able to mow the entire lawn because the inflatable water slide was in the way. So I had to inflate it, hose it down, and let it dry out so I could put it away. So I mowed the lawn around the water slide and went to open the back gate in order to haul stuff to the front—the location of the huge trash dumpster.

After I opened the gate, I realized I wouldn’t be able to get stuff out the gate because we’d set some junk by the gate so we’d remember to throw it out. So I had to move the junk pile to the huge trash dumpster first. Once I dragged stuff to the dumpster, I realized some of the larger things—like the old BBQ grill and broken swimming pool—would have to be taken apart if I still wanted to have room in the trash bin for more junk. So I started taking apart the grill. Then I decided I needed to get oldest son, E, out of bed to help me. Once I got him up and moving (no small feat), I decided to leave the taking apart of the larger items to hubby or I’d never get stuff out of the shed. So E and I started pulling stuff out of the shed.

The first thing we hauled out was the old inflatable water slide. It had some holes that I was going to repair but never got around to fixing. So into the dumpster it went (and took up most of the room—stupid water slide). We then hauled the plastic tubs full of old toys and books and keepsakes, etc. out of the shed and set them in the driveway. I went through a few of them and threw things out (don’t tell the kids). When hubby got home, he took apart the grill and started helping us load the plastic tubs into his truck.

I’d like to say we got the whole shed cleaned out and everything hauled to the storage room we rent, but, sadly, that’s not the case. We did get quite a bit of stuff out of there, but there’s still SOOO much more to do.

Anyway, all that was to explain why I’m tired today and not sad to stay home instead of having to chaperone a group of excited fifth graders at the county fair. Plus, unlike today, yesterday was bright and sunny—okay, down right HOT—and, being the idiot I am, I forgot to wear sunscreen and got sunburned. It hurts.

So, yeah, I’m evil and selfish and glad the field trip got cancelled. So there. *sticking tongue out*

Tomorrow will be another day of cleaning out the shed so “the guy” can come on Tuesday and tell us what we’ll need to do to transform the shed into a writing/crafting room.

And I’m excited for the writing/crafting room to be finished so I can have room to work on my secret craft projects—yes, I need more room than my kitchen table provides (will share pictures/info when the crafts are done). And it will also be nice to have somewhere quiet (and not so cramped to write). The little desk off to the side of my bedroom is not near enough room—and it gets noisy when everyone’s home . . . and the distractions of seeing laundry and stuff that needs done around the house really kills my creativity.

What “fun” things did you do this week? Have anything “fun” planned for this weekend?

Write/craft/clean on!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tuesday Times

Things have been so crazy here (what else is new)! We’ve travelled every weekend for the last month to visit family and attend various family gatherings. I’m exhausted!

This weekend was the most exhausting yet. We visited my parents in Snowflake (AZ) for the corn harvest. We planted less this year, but harvested more. I’m not sure I’ve seen so much corn! Not only did we harvest it, but we also steamed it and cut it off the cob so we could freeze it. We started at 6:00 a.m. (which meant the kids and I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. so we could get there on time) and didn’t get finished until just after 4:00 p.m. After harvesting the corn (there was a truck bed full of it), my siblings and their children shucked it while another sister and I harvested the carrots (a wagon overflowing with them) and some watermelon (gigantic heavy things—or maybe it only felt like it because we were tired). I brought home a thirty-one pound watermelon (we’re going to cut into it tonight) and there were several others that were big like that.

So exhausting might not quite convey the level of tired we all are. Yesterday was spent recuperating. We had planned to travel to Flagstaff for the Coconino County Fair, but decided not to. We did go out to one of the local pizza places to hang out and eat lunch, but that was it.

Two of my kids are home today because they aren’t feeling well—likely a combination of exhaustion (they helped harvest and shuck the corn) and eating too much corn (we had some for dinner last night and the night before—on the cob). Corn tastes so much sweeter when you’ve grown and harvested it yourself—or maybe we just appreciate it more.

Anyway, today I’m hoping to get some writing done. I wasn’t able to write much last week at all between the sick kids and preparing to travel. But it’s a new week—and a new month—and I’m hoping to accomplish great things. Well, I should at least be able to get the research done that I need to for this new project.

So how was your Labor Day weekend? Did you do anything fun? What are you planning for the rest of this week?

Write on!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Words on Wednesday

1. I haven’t gotten much writing done the last couple of days. Mostly due to sickness. I caught a cold or some such virus from my adorable niece on Saturday. My brother and sister-in-law warned me their baby was sick, but I just couldn’t resist holding and cuddling and playing with her. And now I’m paying for it. But it was worth it. I don’t get to see them often and most of the time when I do she doesn’t want anything to do with me (cause I’m not around enough for her to know me). But this time she let me hold her and play with her and she held onto my fingers with her chubby little hands and let me “walk” her around the room. *sigh* good times.

2. Monday I spent cleaning out the storage facility we rent. We’ve been throwing stuff in there for years and it needed “organized” so we can throw more stuff in there. And it’s important to me that it gets done because it means I’ll have a writing space free of clutter (so I can concentrate better) and hopefully have fewer interruptions. More on that project to come.

3. I’ve been working on a new MG novel. I know, I know, I shouldn’t jump from one project to another, but this new idea is awesome (at least I think so), and I couldn’t wait to get started on it. The revisions I was working on will wait.

4. The best thing about this new project is I learned a new way to write from the awesomeness that is WriteOnCon! On Wednesday, the amazing Kimberley Griffiths-Little did a vlog about her 3x5 plotting method. I’d heard of it before, but didn’t fully comprehend it until I watched her vlog. And what a difference it has made! It took me a little less than two days to completely plot out my new novel on the 3x5 index cards. I have a stack of abut 41 scenes to write up, and it’s so much easier to work from the 3x5 cards than it is to flip through pages of notes in my spiral notebook (my old method of plotting) trying to find what scene/idea/bit of dialogue I want. Here’s a link to the vlog Kimberley did at the conference. And I’ll try to embed it below (if I can get it to work).

How do you plot your novels/stories?

Hope everyone is enjoying their Wednesday!


Write on.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Words on Wednesday

First of all, I’m LOVING WriteOnCon this year! The theme is Back to Basics, and I’ve learned more than I thought I would. I’m not saying I think I know it all or anything, but I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about the basics at least. I. Was. Wrong.

Seriously, there’s always more to learn because everyone approaches writing differently. There are some amazing suggestions on the site. Check it out if you have time (last session of the Con is tonight, but the stuff will still be there for you to enjoy at your leisure).

One thing I saw at the conference and wanted to share (I got permission) is this fun trailer for The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas (she’s such fun to watch and you should watch her presentation on Do It Yourself promotion from Tuesday’s session of WriteOnCon).

I’ll be sad to see the conference end tonight, but my family will be glad I’m no longer glued to the computer.

How has your Wednesday been?

Write on!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Words on Wednesday

It’s K’s 11th birthday today. She got her presents yesterday since they came in the mail and she just couldn’t wait until today—she wanted to play with them and knew she’d have to go to school this morning and not have time. She wanted Perfect Petzzz; a Chihuahua and Porch Cat with Kittens. They are truly adorable and since they don’t need food or water—only the occasional “D” sized battery, they’re most welcome to stay. Unfortunately, the Chihuahua is having a bit of trouble “breathing” so I contacted the seller to see what we can do about it. I replaced the pooch’s battery, but it still isn’t working.

Here’s a link to the website for those not familiar with Perfect Petzzz (I wasn’t). If you don’t want to click over, these are basically molded animals with synthetic fur that have a motor mechanism inside that makes them “breathe”—the fur moves up and down near the back legs like real dogs and cats do when they’re sleeping. They are in fixed positions so there’s no moving them around, but at first glance, they do look real. K fooled E (who’s 19  now) for a little bit. He thought we’d gotten some cats and new dog.

Anyway, K is upset that the Chihuahua isn’t working, but she thought it just needed a new battery. She’ll find out when she comes home that the batteries I got this morning didn’t do the trick. *sigh* Hopefully it won’t upset her too much and “ruin” her birthday. She is my drama queen, after all, and this might be cause for a scene.

I managed to get quite a bit of writing done yesterday. This is awesome since I’m going to be crazy today with getting cupcakes to K’s class this afternoon and trying to get her cake and stuff done for after school today. Not sure I’ll get much writing done today. Tomorrow I should have the first part of the morning to write and then after I grade the spelling tests at K’s class I might get in another hour or so of writing before the kids get home. All in all, things aren’t going as well as I’d hoped on the daily writing front. Hopefully things will slow down next week.

Oh wait, next week is crazy too—it’s WriteOnCon!! I’m so excited about this (if you can’t tell by the exclamation points)!! I’ve loved being able to attend this conference each year. Being a poor writer with not much money to spare for conferences and the like, it’s great to be able to attend this online conference each year for FREE!! Yes, for FREE!! It still amazes me. There are always wonderful agents, editors, and authors at WriteOnCon, and there’s always more to be learned. This year, my very awesome, amazing friend Kimberley Griffiths Little will be one of the authors on faculty. The WriteOnCon theme this year is Back to Basics (and who doesn’t need to get back to basics now and then) and Kimberley will be demonstrating her 3x5 card plotting method. YAY!!

What are you doing on this lovely Wednesday? Are you planning to attend WriteOnCon next week?

Hope you all have a great Wednesday!

Write on!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What day is it?

So last week flew by so fast I almost missed it! Here we are already on Tuesday of this week and I feel like I’ve accomplished a grand total of nothing. In reality, I’ve been busy, just not writing.

Mostly I’ve been catching up after last week’s insanity. K had some trouble last week with possible seizures and was home for a few days. On Friday, I traveled to visit a friend who came from TX (she was visiting her mother in another town in AZ—thus the travel on my part to see her). It was great to see her and catch up and do a bit of shopping around the quaint little town of Cottonwood, AZ.

On Saturday we had the huge birthday bash for my four kids. Yes, one big birthday party for ALL of them. Their birthdays are in June, July, August, and July and are only a few weeks apart. Instead of having a birthday party for each one individually, I find it easier to have one big party for all of them. This year we decided to rent the local movie theater and watch Ice Age 4. Unfortunately, the theater called on Monday to tell me the movie was leaving on Wednesday and wouldn’t be available for the party on Saturday. So we did some scrambling to see if we could get everyone to come on Wednesday instead.

That wasn’t happening. We then decided to hold the party at one of the local pizza joints. They were gracious and wonderful and we were all set . . . until I contacted the movie theater to tell them we’d made other plans and they told me there had been a change and the movie WOULD be there for us to watch on Saturday. *sigh* Commence many family conferences and phone calls to family and friends—Anyway, we decided to stick with the pizza joint and had a marvelous party with about 60 or so people (family and the kids friends). It was fun, but exhausting. The friend who was visiting from TX wasn’t able to make the party, but she did stop by later that night to visit. *love her*

That was my hectic week . . .

This week hasn’t started out great either. Yesterday the kids stayed home due to various complaints of not feeling well. I’d hoped to dive into a new week of writing, but that didn’t happen. I did try, but the constant knocking on the door (I tried locking it after the first thousand interruptions) wasn’t conducive to getting much done. After about two hours, I gave up and opened the door. The kids came in and we sat on the bed. They played their iPods and I played my iPad. We all played the same game.

It’s a new time waster app we discovered on Saturday (thanks to one of E’s friends at the birthday party). It’s “Let’s Create: Pottery.” I know they have this game for other platforms (like 3DS and I think Wii), but this was the first time I’d ever heard of it. What a blast we’ve been having! It’s especially fun for me since I’ve been missing my real life pottery class. Let me tell you, it’s so much easier to make the pottery in the app than it is in the real world! And, since it’s all in the app, there’s no boxes of pottery to fill up my house. Though I’ve wished I could have a few of them in real life since I’ve liked some of the things I’ve made in the app.

Anyway, the kids are all off to school today and I’m planning to get some writing done right after I post this—and finish my breakfast. Speaking of food—I decided a couple of weeks ago to try to eat healthier in hopes of losing some weight (I need to lose about 25 pounds). I looked into a few “diet” programs, but they’re super expensive—well, for our budget. So instead, I’ve been doing my own thing. For starters, I’ve started eating.

Yeah, that may sound strange or even bad to some of you, but the truth is, I hardly ever eat breakfast and rarely eat lunch. I’m too busy writing or going to school or doing homework or the like. Not healthy habits! If I did eat anything, it was junk food as I sat at my computer (York peppermint patties—though I rationalize that it’s dark chocolate so it’s not “bad” for me—lol). So now I have a breakfast shake each morning and some sort of breakfast bar. I was eating either a granola bar or a Nutrigrain (strawberry) bar. Yesterday I discovered some new “healthier” options. They’re Kind bars.

This morning I’m eating a Kind Fruit & Nut bar of the Almond and Coconut variety. They’re all natural, gluten free (not that I have a problem with gluten) and don’t have any artificial garbage in them. The ingredients for the almond and coconut bars: Almonds, dried coconut, honey, non GMO glucose (whatever that is) puffed rice, chicory fiber, soy lecithin. I was worried they’d taste gross, but I was wrong. I haven’t tried any of the other Kind bars yet (though I purchased a Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein—which I’ll try as my snack later today), but the almond and coconut is delicious!!

Last week, I lost three pounds—but I think I gained it back after the pizza party and cake and all that on Saturday. I haven’t been brave enough to step on the scale yet. In addition to eating and eating a bit healthier (with the exception of Saturday), I’m walking during the day (instead of driving to get the mail I walk the block to the mail box and back—I also walk to meet the kids at the bus stop in the afternoons and walk home with them which is about a block away).

Even though it’s only been a couple of weeks, I’m feeling better (and have lost weight). And apparently this “diet” is doing something for my hair because last week I got so many compliments on my hair that it isn’t even funny. In fact, it’s kind of weird.

Anyway, tomorrow is K’s birthday so I’ll have to take some time out from writing to take cupcakes to her class (at 12:20) and on Thursday I have to go in at about 12:45 to grade spelling tests. This will be a weekly thing. I know, I know, I was trying to avoid volunteering this year, but how could I say no to something so simple? It will only take about an hour out of my day (have to grade two classrooms worth since K’s teacher teaches spelling/reading to another class—that teacher teaches K’s class math in trade).

So, how is your week shaping up? Are you planning to get a bunch of writing/stuff done or is your week like my last week and you’ll be so busy you won’t have time to think?

Write On!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend Woes

Yesterday was J’s (oldest daughter) birthday. She became an official teenager (she turned 13). I thought the weekend would be a great one spent celebrating. Don’t get me wrong, we did have fun and celebrated J’s special day, but it wasn’t all fun and celebration.

Yesterday while hubby was using the steamer to cook his tamales, the stove caught on fire. Apparently some grease (from when he fried some tortillas for chips) had gotten on the burner or something. The fire was put out and no one was hurt, but my stove is burnt.

A few scorch marks on the stove don’t bother me, but when I was removing the stove-top heating elements to make sure the fire was out (I used potholders so I wouldn’t burn myself) I sort of pulled one out and think I ruined the wiring on it. Since it’s an electric stove and we don’t want another fire, we’re going to toss out the stove and get a new one today. In about an hour or so, hubby will call me and I’ll meet him at the appliance store to pick out a new oven.

It was an old stove that came with the house (we’ve lived in this house for eleven years and who knows how long the stove was here before we moved in) so I’m not broken up about having to replace it. Still, that means a day of not getting writing done because I’m moving out the old stove and cleaning (it’s amazing how much stuff gets under the stove) so the new one can be brought in (hopefully before dinnertime).

In addition to the oven fiasco, we discovered a leak under the kitchen sink. Hubby patched it up, but things were pretty wet so we’re still trying to dry them out (and trying to prevent mold). These things always seem to happen at once!

On the good news side of things, this is the first full week of school for the kids (they started last Wednesday)! I’m excited to see how it goes for them—and me. Those first few days of school, the teachers didn’t require much from the kids, but that will change this week. They’ll be sending homework home. Which means we’ll have to figure out how to get back into the routine of doing chores and homework. And I get to figure out if the old time schedule still works or if I need to make adjustments. I’m pretty sure I’ll have some adjusting to do since both of the younger kids will have to read 30 minutes each night instead of last year’s 20 minutes. It may not seem like much, but those extra 10 minutes end up being an extra 20 minutes for me since they read to me separately. *sigh*

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for reading. I LOVE READING!! But it’s hard on all of us to schedule that much time and still fit in all the other homework and chores and hope there’s enough time left before dinner for the kids to get outside and have some play time. I’m not sure teachers realize what they’re doing to us when they make such assignments.

Another fun thing that happened this weekend: one of my sisters introduced me to a fun new time waster game on the iPad. It’s called Jurassic Park Builder. Yeah. Like I needed another time waster. As I write this, my iPad is sitting next to me on the desk so I can periodically check on it and collect the money from my dinosaurs. I’ve rationalized it by convincing myself it’s not a huge time waster because it only takes a minute or so to tap on all the dinosaurs and collect the money. Still, that’s a minute I could have spent writing, I suppose. Hopefully I’ll get bored with playing it soon and get that minute back.

How was your weekend? How do you plan to spend your Monday?

Play Write on!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

The first day of school went great for the kids! With them gone, I enjoyed diving back into my old writing schedule. There were a few hours when I had to stop writing to take oldest son into town and get some lunch (yeah, I have one NOT in school at the moment—he graduated last year—but he’ll be taking some college classes . . . they start next month), but for the most part it was a productive swim in the writing waters.

Okay, to be honest, I was too scared and nervous about diving back into deep writing. I needed some time to splash around in the shallow end of the writing pool and reacquaint myself with the waters. So I dipped my toes into the MS with some revising and managed to clear the three chapter mark.

Today, I’m swimming into deeper waters with some writing of new chapters/scenes. Hopefully I won’t flail around in the waters, sink to the bottom, and drown. I don’t understand why I’m so nervous about swimming into the deep end. After all, I know how to swim. It shouldn’t be any trouble to dive into the deep and and just do it . . . but I’m struggling to work up the nerve.

And it’s not like I’m writing a completely new novel, I’m just rewriting an old one. The bare bones are there, I just have to flesh them out and clean up the messy ones.

Have any of you taken a break from writing? If so, how did/do you get back into the “swim” of things?

Write on?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Words

It’s here! The kids are off to their first day of school. While I’m excited because it means I’ll be able to get back to a writing schedule/routine, I’m also a bit nervous. Not sure if it’s nerves for the kids and the new school year for them, or nerves for myself and my writing. I’m not sure why I should be nervous about diving back into a regular writing schedule, but I think I might be. This is the first time in a long time that I’ll have Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday for nothing but writing. I won’t be going back to school myself this semester, and (so far) I’m not signed up to do any volunteering at the school library. My days from about 9:00 until 3:00 are all mine for writing!

Of course, Wednesday isn’t in the list above because hubby is off on Wednesdays, and it’s hard to write when he’s home watching TV. But today, he had a meeting in Flagstaff so he’s gone too (won’t be home until after the kids are). I’m going to get some writing done today! It’s not that I haven’t been writing at all during the summer—I did a bit here and there when I could, but it was hard with kids home—but there’s a part of me that wonders if my lax summer habits will be easy to break (played lots of games during the summer). I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things (this blog post might be considered an effort to procrastinate, but I think it’s more of a “breaking the ice” type thing) right away and accomplish quite a bit of writing.

The first project I’ll be tackling is finishing up the rewrite of the MG I’ve been doing. Once finished with the rewrite, I’ll be revising it based on feedback from critique buddies. I’m setting a deadline and planning on having it all finished and revised and ready to send to my wonderful agent by the end of September.

What are your plans for this wonderful Wednesday?

Write on!

Monday, July 16, 2012

July Recent Reads Reviews

It’s time for some reviews on books I’ve read recently (well, since my last reviews in April). As a reminder of my new scoring system, I’m using emoticons. Here’s what they mean:

Open-mouthed smileWOW—I loved this book and will talk/have talked about/shared it with others.

Smile--Not totally in love, but this was a great book and I may talk about/share it with others.

Thinking smile--This was okay. I enjoyed reading it, but it’s not my favorite.

Sad smile--This wasn’t for me. I stopped reading and couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Steaming mad--How did this get published?

If you happen to be the author of one of the books I review, please remember this is my honest opinion. Don’t hate me if I don’t give your book a great big happy grin. I am only one reader in the whole wide readership and I’m sure there are those who’ll love your work—it just wasn’t me.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel--Open-mouthed smile--I picked this up at a book fair at the middle school last year. It sat in my TBR pile for quite a while—not because I didn’t want to read it, but because there were so many other books I had added to the pile first (yes, I’m reviewing out of order). I passed over some of the books that had been in the pile much longer and picked up this one. I guess I was in the mood for something dark. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I loved how Oppel treated Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein and other characters. The idea of showing Victor’s earlier years is brilliant! It looked interesting when I picked it up in the book fair, but I may not have if the librarian (a trusted friend) had mentioned she picked herself up a copy. I’m glad I bought it! Oppel’s tale is rich with beautiful prose, and he handles the dark mind of Victor in a sympathetic and engrossing way. This is one I’ve added to my re-read pile.

The story—Sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein’s twin brother, Konrad, is ill and the doctors can’t seem to cure him. Desperate to save his brother, Victor enlists the help of his friend, Henry, and his beautiful cousin, Elizabeth, to help him find a cure. They think they’ve found the answer when they stumble on a secret library filled with Alchemy books. The practice of Alchemy is against the law, but Victor is willing to risk it when he discovers a recipe for the Elixir of Life. Certain it will cure his brother, he’s willing to make great sacrifices (I won’t tell you what and spoil it) to get the ingredients and see the potion made.


Dangerous Favor by Joyce DiPastena--Open-mouthed smile--While this wasn’t a “recent” read, I don’t remember reviewing it and wanted to. I love how DiPastena gives a brand new story and characters while still blending in past characters from her novels, Loyalty’s Web and Illuminations of the Heart. This is another sweet (and clean) romance that transports the reader to the middle ages. I loved traipsing across medieval France with Mathilde and Etienne!

The story—Mathilde’s family was thrust into poverty when her father was accused of stealing from the king. Mathilde knows he’s innocent, but without a rich and connected husband, she has no way to prove it. She’s set her sights on Lord Therri and is determined to win his hand—and money and connections. She sets out to grant Therri her favor (an embroidered white ribbon her brother let her borrow) for the knight’s tournament. Instead, she’s tricked into granting her favor to Therri’s friend, Etienne. This sets in motion a chain of events that puts Mathilde and those around her in danger. Etinne is smitten by Mathilde and determined to save her from the dangerous nightmares of her past.


Drawn by Marie Lamba--Open-mouthed smile--Lamba’s great characters pulled me into the story, but it was the fascination of time travel/ghosts of the past that kept me reading. I’m a sucker for castles and loved the one in Drawn. The twining of past and present was brilliantly done, as was the romance and growth of the characters in both time periods. There were a few things I figured out before they were revealed (including who the “bad guy” was). I’ve been known to stop reading books when they are too predictable—but there has to be an eye-roll factor present for me to put it down, and there wasn’t any eye-rolling while I read Drawn. Even though I figured it out, Lamba’s characters and world were interesting and real enough to keep me reading.

The story—Michelle De Freccio isn’t sure she’s going to like living in England with her father or attending Wallingford Academy, but she’s willing to give it a try. Especially since no one knows her, and she won’t have the embarrassment of being known as the daughter of a psychic mother and schizophrenic brother to deal with. She’s making a new life for herself and enjoying drawing the mysterious man who’s showed up in her drawings—until she comes face to face with him. She’s immediately drawn to him, but things get complicated when she discovers who he really is. When she tries to unravel the mystery of him, it changes her future and his.


Those are some of my recent (or not so recent) reads. There are more I’ve read and need to review, but this is already a long post so they’ll have to wait until next time.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What books have been your favorite reads recently?


Read on!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

I’m Free to Write

Today I’m grateful for those who fought to win American independence and those who continue to fight to keep us free. In honor of these amazing and brave people, I’m going to exercise my freedom of speech and using the morning to write. Yay!

After the kids are up, we’ll have our flag ceremony (our Cub Scout is excited). Then the rest of the day will be pretty boring. The kids promised to clean their rooms (we’ll see if it happens), and I need to do a load of dishes and a load of towels (amazing how fast they get used in summer when kids are playing in the pool). Maybe we’ll have a barbeque for lunch, but basically everything we do is distraction to keep the kids from constantly asking me if it’s time for fireworks.

Yes, despite the extreme fire danger, our town does fireworks every year. Only because they do the fireworks out on the lake in Green Valley Park. Once again, the sky is cloudy and it looks like rain (it seems to rain here EVERY July 4th). I’m not sure how much of the fireworks we’ll be able to enjoy if it’s pouring down rain (though we did watch the fireworks in a light rain a couple of years ago). Still, we need the rain, and I’m grateful whenever it falls.

We aren’t sure where we’ll go to watch the fireworks this year. We used to have a spot up by the airport but over the years, others in the town have discovered what an amazing vantage point it is and it’s been super crowded the last couple of years.

We don’t go down to the park because it’s WAY too congested down there with all the people and traffic. Still, we’ll enjoy celebrating our independence today however we manage to do it.

But, as I said, I’ll be using the morning to do some writing.

What about you? If you’re here in America, what do you do to celebrate Independence Day?

Write on.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Five

1. Another day of peace and quiet (at least till hubby comes home from work). I’ve done a little writing and then had to stop and do a lot of plotting (hey, sometimes these things need to be planned). I’m taking a break to blog and then get lunch before diving back into more writing.

2. On my break, I discovered the amazing Dawn Metcalf is celebrating the first anniversary of her book, LUMINOUS!

I can’t believe it’s been a year. Wow. In celebration of the anniversary she’s holding a giveaway. Go here to check it out and enter.

3. Though I’m enjoying my quiet time, I do find I’m missing my kids. Crazy, I know. The house is just so quiet. No one is banging on my door or yelling “Mom” from somewhere else in the house. And there aren’t any little arms to give me hugs. We’ve been keeping in touch with Facetime (the kids all have their own iPods and hubby and I have our iPads), but it’s not the same. I’ll be glad to have them back—but I’m sure I’ll miss the quiet time when it’s gone too. The grass is always greener and all that.

4. I can’t believe this month is almost over! It was full of fun with us taking the kids to the zoo and science center and Lowell Observatory. And oldest son, E, turned 19 on the 22nd!! July will be here in a few more days and with it J and JR’s birthdays, mine and hubby’s anniversary, and the kids will be going back to school! Crazy!

5. What plans do you have for the end of June and the first of July this weekend?

Write on.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Things

My house is quiet.

No, I didn’t murder my family and bury them in the back yard or anything.  It’s quiet because hubby and oldest son are off working today. “But wait,” you say. “You have three other children. What about them?” Ah, fear not, my friends. Last night we dropped the three youngest kids off at the in-laws in Flagstaff where they’ll stay until Sunday. This means quiet time for me. Yay!

So, what am I doing with my first day of quiet? Well, I spent the morning catching up on emails and such. I thought I’d spend the rest of the day catching up on housework (cleaning the kids’ rooms while they’re gone), but another plan has formed instead.

Since it’s hard to get any writing done when the kids are home—they think they need their mother for other things, silly beasts—I decided to use this rare kid-free time to get some writing done.

Granted, it would be easier to clean their rooms while they’re gone so they aren’t looking over my shoulder and begging to keep things I want to throw away, but it can be done while they’re home (even if it means keeping a few things that would normally be thrown out), and writing can’t.

So, after I get something lunch-ish to eat, I plan to tackle a couple of critiques. Once I get those done, I’ll be able to dive into my WIP guilt free—at least until I have to walk down the hall for something and see that the rooms really do need my attention. I guess I’ll just have to avoid the hallway. Winking smile

Hope you all have a happy Thursday!

Write on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Time

The livin’ may not be easy, but it’s livin’.

On this first day of summer, we’re hoping to take a trip to the cooler air of Flagstaff. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll be spending the day installing a door (well, half door—I’m cutting it) in my laundry room to keep J’s dog out (she jumps over the “baby” gate) and building a new display shelf for my bookmarks. Since hubby left the choice up to me, I’m thinking the trip is a go.

Yeah, I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to do the installation/building. It’s not that I don’t want to do the work eventually—just not today. Hubby even let me pick out new tools and everything. They’re lighter than the hulking beast tools hubby has so I should be able to handle them better. And the combo kit I picked out has a circular saw which hubby doesn’t have (and is the main reason hubby let me get new tools). I’m looking forward to not having to use a hacksaw to cut the door. And then I’ll have the circular saw for all my big projects—the tiny Dremel saw and hacksaw just weren’t cutting it (hee hee)—well, not easily at least.

new tools

But, as you can see, the package is still unopened so I can’t really do the work until I open the box and charge the battery (cordless tools are awesome—just sayin’). Hey, it’s as good an excuse as any to get out of work. I can charge the battery while we’re gone so it will be ready to go when we get back—though I’ll probably not do the work until tomorrow. And travelling doesn’t really get me out of doing any work, cause I have to clean out the van before we go.

In reality, I’m looking forward to doing the installing/building (just not today). I’m a girl who loves me some power tools—I’m weird like that. Building things (and taking them apart) has always been fascinating to me. I wouldn’t say I’m an accomplished designer/builder/carpenter or anything, but I manage to figure things out enough to get by.

Speaking of building things and taking them apart, I did manage to finish the chapter I promised to revise/rewrite last post. Yay! I doubt I’ll get any writing done today, but I’m hoping tomorrow brings another finished chapter or two.

How are you doing this first day of summer? Any plans?

Summer on!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Five

1. I love this post by Dawn Metcalf about beginnings and endings. Beginnings are hard for me. Endings can sometimes be hard too, but at least there’s the satisfaction of reaching the end. With the beginning, there’s a blank page staring at me, daring me to fill it. It’s usually a struggle. I rewrite/revise my beginnings countless times, but the endings usually don’t require much revision/rewriting. What about you? Do you prefer beginnings or endings?

2. I’ve been slacking again. Not only have I ignored my blog (sorry) and Facebook (not a bad thing, necessarily), but I’ve been ignoring my writing (a very bad thing). Okay, so things have been busy with the start of summer and family obligations, and crafting obligations (yes, it’s an obligation—I’m paying for a space in a local store and I needed to fill it), and everything, but really, I COULD have done some writing if I really wanted to. I’ve just been too lazy. Even now, I’m blogging to avoid working on my WIP (I WILL do at least one chapter today, I’ve promised myself—and now you). Is it harder for you to write in the summer?

3. Father’s Day is Sunday, and I haven’t done a single bit of shopping. I don’t even know what to get hubby. I’m making a shoe rack for my dad and still need to buy the wood and stuff to make it. I had no problem coming up with a gift idea for my dad, but it’s more difficult to figure out something for hubby. *sigh* I know my dad needs a shoe rack (and decided to build one instead of buy one), but I can’t think of a single thing hubby wants/needs. We always get him lame things like a tie or DVD or something. Although, now that I think about it, he has mentioned wanting a new speaker system for the bedroom TV/DVD/BlueRay. Hmm . . . problem solved—well sort of, I still have to take the kids shopping to buy it and that can be a HUGE problem (kids don’t shop well—always ask for stuff and stress me out). Winking smile What are you planning for Father’s Day?

4. Vacationing is exhausting. It was more of a day trip, really, but it was still exhausting. We went to the Phoenix Zoo AND the Arizona Science Center on Wednesday. We will never do it again! One or the other, but never both in the same day. I have never walked so much in my life, and my legs are S-O-R-E. Okay, so the exercise is good for me and all that, but DANG!

5. Even though there are more blogs to catch up on and all that, I’m going to resist temptation and get to work on my revising/rewriting. Hope you all have a great weekend! Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there.

Write on.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012


I just finished watching America’s Got Talent. This singer shocked the heck out of me. If you haven’t seen Andrew De Leon’s audition, you’ve GOT to watch this!



Sing on!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Longing for Spring

I know it just passed and summer is here for a while. I still have fall and winter to go through, but I’m very much looking forward to Spring 2013. Here’s why:


Synopsis Cover Copy:

Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But in reality, Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mother is depressed and distant, and she and her sister Riley can’t seem to agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara just knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.

A strange butler shows up to take Tara and Riley to Grammy Claire’s house, where Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire herself. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the keys more difficult to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to mortal danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful island of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all — one that will change her life forever.

From Kimberley Griffiths Little comes a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.

You can’t see me, but I’m grinning from ear to ear and bursting with excitement! I’ve loved Kimberley’s books (and have reviewed them here on my blog) and am so very much looking forward to the release of this one. Doesn’t it sound amazing?! And the cover is gorgeous (all of her covers have been).

So, I’ll burn through the summer months, enjoy the fall of leaves in autumn, freeze in the winter, and endure whatever may come because I know that when spring comes, not only will I have flowers to look forward too, I’ll also have WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME to read.

Kimberley is having a giveaway on her blog (free autographed books, people—don’t miss it). Go here to check it out. Click to visit Kimberley's blog and learn about the giveaway (it’s super simple, promise).

What book/books are you looking forward to?

Write/Read on.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Critiquing Today for Better Writing Tomorrow

As writers we learn our craft from many different sources: workshops, hundreds/thousands of books that promise to take our writing to the next level, lots of practice (I’ve been “seriously” practicing for almost nine years), attending conferences, etc.

All these things are awesome, but perhaps one of the least heralded sources of learning comes in the form of critique. Getting a critique from another author (regardless of that author’s experience level) teaches us something about our manuscript and writing style. Incredibly helpful as this is, I feel one of the greatest sources for learning comes in GIVING a critique to another author.

It was through critiquing another’s work that I learned the meaning of “show, don’t tell.” In pouring over paragraph after paragraph of backstory, I learned to recognize info dumps. It wasn’t until I started critiquing another’s work that I learned how pompous, unnatural, and “writerly” my words sounded on paper. Critiquing other manuscripts helped me find my own voice.


For one thing, it’s easier to spot discrepancies in other people’s work. We aren’t attached to it and are able to read with an objectivity we don’t have when it comes to our own work. This practice opens our eyes to the same or similar flaws in our own work (at least it will if we let it—cause guess what, my friends, none of us are perfect—no matter how long we’ve been writing). I think somewhere in the back of our subconscious minds, we know what is wrong with our work. But do we listen to the subconscious?


That is, until we critique another writer’s work. Then our subconscious is free to gravitate to the flaws it knows so well—the flaws present in our own work.

So get out there and critique, my fellow writers. Learn the things your subconscious has been trying to tell you all this time. Then dive into your own work and fix the issues you’ve discovered.


Write/Critique on.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Five

1. This has been a miserable week! Sunday we went to visit hubby’s mom for early mother’s day (that’s not the miserable part). By the time we got home Sunday night, hubby was feeling sick. Monday night, I started coughing. And it was all downhill from there. We’ve been sick this whole week! Coughing, throat so raw it hurts to swallow, stuffy nose, high fevers. It hasn’t been fun. I ended up in the ER on Wednesday morning because my chest hurt so bad it was hard to breathe (I have a weak chest wall). They gave me antibiotics and told me to rest. Gee, thanks. *eye roll*

I can barely talk now (and it hurts when I try), it’s still painful to breathe, but I’m taking Motrin to help with the pain. I’m taking Sudafed to help with the stuffy nose, sucking on cough drops like they’re candy to help with the sore throat, and taking the azithromycin (antibiotic). Hopefully it will all go away soon—and I won’t get pneumonia (I usually get it whenever I have a respiratory infection).

2. The kids have been out of school most of the week with the sickness. It’s hard enough feeling crappy, but trying to take care of kids who also feel crappy on top of it is even worse. It’s all part of being a mom though.

3. We’re supposed to go to Snowflake to visit my mom on Sunday for Mother’s Day. I’m not sure we’ll make it with all the sickness. I’m still hoping I feel better by then and can at least go by myself if I have to.

4. With all the sickness, I haven’t done much writing. I did manage to critique a chapter for someone though. And I have looked at my MG . . . read through a bit, but didn’t write anything.

5. I hope Sunday brings all my LJ friends a great Mother’s Day!

Stay well!

Write on.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Things

1. I survived the weekend trip to Tucson (it seems it’s taken me this long to fully recover). We ended up NOT going to the science center. Instead, we took the kids to Toys R Us. That may seem like a lame option, but my kids have never been to a Toys R Us and they wanted to go (except oldest son, E, who stayed in the hotel room). Later that night we went out to dinner with my oldest sister and her family and my mom. We ate at Golden Corral (which we had also never been to). After eating, we went back to the hotel and the kids and hubby swam in the pool with the cousins while I chatted with my sister. We got to see my younger sister’s new baby and lots of family that I hadn’t seen in a while—including my two new adorable nieces.

2. I’ve been having more fun painting on the iPad!

Spring BloomsPurple Storm

Using hubby’s stylus wasn’t cutting it for me so after some research I bought the Adonit Jot Pro stylus:


You can’t see it in this picture, but there’s a cap that screws onto the end (so you don’t lose it). It also sticks nicely to the magnetic side of the iPad so I don’t lose it. Yay! I had some fun experimenting and drew this a few minutes ago (took about an hour):

character 1

Then I decided to add some freckles:

character freckles 2

I’ve decided I LOVE the Jot Pro stylus! It’s very responsive and with the little round see through surface, I’m able to add fine detail to things.

3. It’s raining here today. Though I love that this means I won’t have to water my flowers, the kids broke all the umbrellas (they think they’re toys no matter how many times I tell them not to touch unless it’s raining) so I’m trying to stay inside today. However, the kids have a 1/2 day of school so I’ll likely have to drive to the bus stop to pick them up (they ride the bus home now to save gas $$) so they won’t get their little heads rained upon.

4. Next week is finals. I’m not overly concerned since they are take home tests—open book and everything (I love my history teacher). Next Tuesday will be my last “official” day of school. Monday the 7th I’ll have to go back to ceramics to pick up my finished projects, but that doesn’t really count as a class IMO. I’m excited that it’s almost over, but also sad since I won’t be going back next semester (and maybe not the semester after that).

5. I got an email from my amazing agent with fabulous feedback on my YA yesterday! Can I just say again that she’s amazing?! Some of the things she pointed out were “duh” moments, but I never would have seen them if she hadn’t pointed them out to me. There are LOTS of problems with this MS (I did tell her it was a mess before sending it to her), and I emailed back to ask if she thought it was worth fixing or if I should move on. We’ll see what she says.

6. I’m going to work on my MG today. I do love this story, but I did ask amazing agent if she wanted to look at what I have so far to see if it’s suitable for the market before I spend too much time on a MS that won’t sell. I have so many other ideas waiting for me that it’s good to have someone who can guide me and let me know what to work on. I look forward to hearing what she has to say.

I hope you all have a great Thursday!!

Write on.