Friday, February 29, 2008

And After...

It's clean! And I'm pooped.

I Have A Secret (Shhh)

Cleanliness comes in fits and spurts at our house. And as much as I strive for balance between my writing and "homemaking," some areas, inevitably, fall a little behind now and then. Witness our family room, just this afternoon:

Polly Pockets have taken over, though they're not quite hostile. Pillows and blankets abound. The wooden blocks beckon us to trample them with bare, sensitive feet, and clothes and dishes claim spots that aren't rightfully theirs.

It's been worse, trust me. But after a couple weeks (or more, I shudder to admit) filled with trips out of town, devotion to my WIP, and frantic (but enjoyable!) work on editing jobs, I haven't had the time or desire to keep things nice and tidy. (In case you're wondering, Hubby's got too many of his own things going on to be much help. The bum.) Plus, ongoing winter weather has put my energy in the dumps... which means I feel like doing diddly-squat around the house. Oh, springtime, don't you hear my call?

Step into my office, won't you?

See the mound? That's my pile of things. Okay, it's two, maybe three, piles of things. I've got paperwork, statements, writing magazines, scrapbooking supplies, a hymnal, two Angelina Ballerina VHSs, and who-knows-what else. I know it appears as though I'm really disorganized. Or lazy. Or both. And I do have my moments, but it's not that bad. Really.

And I'm going to prove it to myself right now. Slowly, I'm going to back away from the computer. I'll sneak up on the rooms in question: living room... office... spare room... kitchen... laundry ro-- aw, heck. Top to bottom! I'm doin' it.

Here I go.

*I'm gone. Really.*

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Business Is Booming!

Okay, so perhaps it's more like squeaking. Oh, how I love the sound of squeaks in the afternoon... But word of my services is getting out, and I've been approached for a smattering of jobs. (To view the details of my business click here or use the link over there -->, under important sites)

One exciting project is the critiquing of (part of) a mystery/suspense manuscript. I've kept busy with it the last couple of days, working on its format and flow, and hope to get my final review done this evening. The client has been great to work with, which makes my job that much more enjoyable.

I'm also stoked about creating a business name and slogan/tagline for someone. My ideas have been met with enthusiasm thus far, and I'm eager to give her my full list of suggestions later this week. She also plans to use my services down the line, for editing of pamphlets and other forms of advertising. So fun!

On another front, just yesterday I received the novel I'll be reviewing online in April. It sits next to me right now, begging me to pick it up. Soon, paperback, soon...

Then, of course, there's my own WIP, individual of Something She Wrote. I didn't get the chance to work on it at all yesterday, but I'll pull it up later and see what I can do.

*squeak squeak*

ETA: Anybody know what the deal is with the format on Blogger? Sometimes it chooses to double-space me, other times it's single-spaced. My post about Sally, my new Alphasmart, included both. *shrugs* By golly! It just did it again!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Day Will Come

As my oldest hollers off-key, sounding every bit the banshee, and the youngest bounces around in circles, having opted not to settle down for nap today, I decide it's time. Since my warnings to play quietly have gone unheeded and my migraine clenches just a bit tighter, I know I've no other option: I shall run away to some undiscovered peaceful place and leave them in charge. I'm packin' my bags.

Yeah. Right.

But it's moments like these, when I have lots of writing and projects to dive into, housework waiting to be done, and I've the desire to close my eyes for even the shortest of minutes - but I just can't get to any of it, thanks to the kidlets - that I eagerly look forward to the day they'll both be in school. When my mornings and afternoons will be quiet, with no interruptions. I'll be able to come and go as I please, without wails of "Mommy, I need you!" or "Mom! Help!" Oh, that sounds so nice.

Oh, I do know this moment of frustration will pass. Somehow I'll find that balance and all things will get accomplished. And, of course, when it comes down to it, taking care of my girls - even on days like today - is my most important of jobs. Someday I'll look back and wish they were little again. I try to relish this time with them, taking it in as some of their best years. They do grow all too quickly.

But just for the day? Can I escape? Please?

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Whoop Heard 'Round The World

I'd already begun my post this morning, thinking to talk about some new writing opportunities. I planned to tell of the book fresh from the publisher I'll be reading and reviewing online, and the guest blogging I may be doing for a family website (details for both to come at a later time).

But then, during a moment of distraction (I swear, it was only a moment!), I began perusing eBay for AlphaSmarts. When I stumbled across a 3000 model and mentioned it to Mike, who was within feet of me, he said, "Wouldja buy it already and quit buggin' me?" It was then that I let out The Whoop Heard 'Round The World. Yep, that was me. I can still feel the shockwave of excitement, which hit me when I clicked the BuyItNow button. Whew, what a rush.

And here she is:

Look at how sleek, how shiny she is. She's coming from Texas where, I can only hope, she was loved and lead a fulfilling life. One that prepared her for the warm welcome I'll give her. She'll come with the USB cable needed to hook 'er up to my computer when the time comes, but I'll invest in some batteries and a nice, comfy satchel she can call home. I shall call her Sally.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fruition Will Be Mine!

The progress I've made on Bliss Lake in the last two days elates me. I've added 1500 words to my ms, all around other duties, within 24 hours. Yippee! I'm now at a total of, roughly, 39000 words. And since a novel needs a minimum of 60k, I'm not too terribly far from my mark. Yippee!

I feel as inspired and motivated as I did back in the first stages of this project. When the scenes were fresh and flowing, and they poured from somewhere in my brain, through my fingertips onto the Word document in front of me. Almost without my realizing the depth of the details being created. I've found it again. Yippee! (I've SO got to work on the echo in here.)

But that's it for now. My daughters' hungry bellies are calling for dinner (literally!) and I have many chores to get done. We'll be off again tomorrow, this time for a family gathering in Nebraska. If my evening goes well, I'll pull the ms up again tonight, and get the last bit of notes from the Chicago trip fleshed out.

Just one more time, for good measure. Yippee!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inspiration On The Road

Our trip was a success! Our purpose was primarily one of business, as we delivered a van, a car door, and rims near and in Chicago, all of which my husband sold through his eBay business. But we made it a family event, too, stopping at a superb mall in Iowa on the way (I found a fab coat on clearance at Old Navy for $4.99!) and visiting the Museum of Science and Industry in downtown Chicago before heading home. We ate delicious food here and there along the way, absorbed some quality family time, and tuckered ourselves out big time. I'm ready to do it again!

But also, I'm proud to report, I made some progress on the writerly front, as I'd hoped to do. The several hours spent in our mammoth, bumpy Ford truck on Tuesday didn't bode too well for handwritten progress on my WIP, but I soaked up the recent edition of the Writer magazine (March 2008). I found it full of great, useful information, some of which I'll try to share in the next couple of days. I got some satisfying study of the Scriptures done, and read a decent amount into the newest book (Home to Holly Springs) by one of my favorite authors, Jan Karon. Each of these steps served, it their own ways, to inspire me. By the time we pulled in to the parking lot of Tuesday night's hotel, ideas for my WIP were bouncing around in my head. I jotted down what notes I had the energy for, sticking the other thoughts in a mental file. Yesterday, around further travels and our time at the museum, I wrote additional notes, not allowing the chance for anything to slip through the cracks. Today, though, I fought my unsteady pen (still in that giant, bumpy Ford we were) and wrote out several pages for the ms. I could see everything unfolding in front of me, and still can. My hope is to transfer it all to Word this evening and, perhaps, continue at a good pace.

All of the above, I should say, took place around comments directed at Hubby, like "Well, I sure wouldn't have to worry about indecipherable writing if I had an AlphaSmart..." and "Bah! I have so much floating around in my head but no decent way to get 'em out..." or "Wouldja look at that?! The Writer has a giant advertisement for AlphaSmarts!" :D I think I just about have him talked into "gifting" me one. I'll keep you posted...

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Ideas For The Back Burner

I spent some much-needed time with two friends today. During the lunch we shared, one told me she'd had a dream a few nights ago. In the dream she seemed an outsider, as we've all likely experienced before. A story unfolded in front of her and, subconsciously, she told herself, "I have to tell Janna of this. What a great book idea!" And as she relayed the dream to me, I had to agree. I absorbed all she could recall and quickly jotted down the most pertinent details. Maybe someday I can transform her dream into a novel.

It makes me feel good, as a writer, to place new ideas on the back burner. It means my inspiration and imagination are still intact, and I enjoy looking ahead to the publication of my current novel (it WILL happen!) with the reassurance that there's work to be done afterward.


The family and I'll be taking a short roadtrip over the next couple of days (yup, the one we had to reschedule due to snowy blizzards). As always, I'll be armed with my notebooks and pens, and I hope to do some handwritten work on the WIP... Which leads me to believe it's time to invest in an AlphaSmart, a magical word processor that weighs 2 lbs and lives on batteries for up to a year. Write on the go, then plug it into your PC at home, adding the new stuff to your WIP. Oh man, am I coveting one (I use that term 'coveting' loosely).

Sure, a laptop would do so much more, as my husband points out. But doesn't it stand to reason that a laptop would provide more distractions? And just look at how cute and compact the bugger is. One day, AlphaSmart, you will be mine. Oh yes, you will be mine.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Progress... In Little Steps

It occurred to me this morning, as I lay in bed trying to catch a few extra winks before jumping into my day, that a few months ago I'd set the goal to finish my WIP by Valentine's Day. Whoops. It's still not finished, but I have, at least, made decent progress.

Last week I wrote the last chapter, which I'm superbly happy with. I also wrote out "what has to happen" to reach that end, and I think the sub-plots are coming together nicely. The last few days have been spent adding to word count. And I'm learning I don't have to write the story in order. Before, I'd have never been comfortable jumping around, but somehow it appeals to me now. Because if I get the main ideas written out, I can go back and fill the spaces. There's something comforting about that.

So it seems, whereas last month my energies went to freelancing and the WIP didn't see the light of day, February has meant work on the ms and my freelancing has fallen behind. But I'm okay with this. Nothing says I have to hit it all hard, every week. I can set my pace, in whichever area, and make progress where my inspiration and work take me. Right? Will this back-and-forth between projects always be the case with me? Is this common? I guess it doesn't matter, as long as it works for me and I'm proceeding with something.

My last two goals for completion of the WIP (Christmas, then mid-Feb) haven't been met, so I hesitate to set another. BUT, I think I'd rather lay something out there to shoot for than to aim wildly at nothing. So... I'd like to think I can finish the first draft of Bliss Lake by the end of March. Let's see where that takes me.

Good luck with all your writing endeavors!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

So Much For That...

We had a day's roadtrip planned, for Hubby to deliver both a van and trailer he sold. The girls and I were riding along, excited about a trip to a large mall (can you tell how little we get out?) and a visit to an aunt and uncle. We awoke to 6-8 inches of snow, which we half knew to expect, but Hubby thought we'd trudge along in his 4x4 Ford anyway. I took along several of my notebooks and materials, intent on catching up with my writing, using good old-fashioned paper and pen. I was set.

It took us 45 minutes to get 15 miles up the interstate. Semis and their trailers were parked (or wrecked) on all sides of the road, and it was when visibility became a quarter-of-a-mile that we called it and headed back home.

I'm relieved, as I didn't want to end up stranded like the truckers, but disappointed our outing was canceled. And I was really looking forward to knocking out some work. (Too many distractions at home this week.) But it does feel good to be hibernating at home. Naptime is soon, so I'll may get some writing accomplished yet.

Happy Snow Day!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Page 123

YES! I LOVE this fun tag from Janet at The Walrus Said. The assignment is thus:

1) Pick up the book nearest you
2) Open to page 123
3) Find the 5th sentence
4) Post the following 3 sentences
5) Tag five others

The book nearest me is one I found at an antiques store. It sits on my shelf with a small basket of flowers, just looking distinguished as aged books do. Julian Mortimer; A Brave Boy's Struggle for Home and Fortune by Harry Castlemon, copyright 1887. There's a handwritten note inside the front cover that reads: Edward C Wright, Jr., From Aunt Jack (yes, aunt), July 1902.

"I am ready to hear what you have to tell me about my parents. You say they are both alive?"

"Both of 'em," replied Sanders.

Ooh, intriguing, no?

I choose to tag:

Rebecca Laffar-Smith from Writer's Round-About

Melanie Avila at What Am I Doing In Mexico?
Michele Tune at Writing the Cyber Highway
Kimmi of Kimmirich's Weblog
Amy from Mind Over Mullis
Susan, The Urban Muse

Have fun!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Scads Of Dresses And A Man Named James

My sisters-in-law and I, along with a close friend of the family, had a kid- and man-free evening out last night (just a while ago, in fact, since it's just after midnight). First we took our time lolling and chatting over dinner, then we hit the movie theatre for a showing of 27 Dresses. FA.BU.LOUS.

Katherine Heigl, whom I've not seen in anything before (though I do know she's a regular on Grey's Anatomy) was outstanding as a beyond-likable, selfless woman I'd befriend any day. (Not to mention, her character had THE BEST wardrobe.) Much kudos to her.

The primary male character opposite her was played by James Marsden and, can I just say?, I'm kinda crushin' on him. And it's about flippin' time he got a lead role. Can we pause for a moment of silence, in honor and/or celebration of James?


Well done. And guess what? He's a writer in the film! Perked my ears right up. And my chest puffed a bit, too, so as to give off the "I'm a writer, too" signal. Too cool.

So anyway, this blog seems very random and atypical (probably because it's late and I've had two glasses of Dr Pepper and an iced mocha), but I just had to share. And I highly recommend the movie.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Kicking Procrastination To The Curb

Rumor has it there's another meme floating around. Alright, it's not exactly rumor. Michele Tune at Writing the Cyber Highway told me about it. And she's asked me to get involved, to boot. This one entails providing 7 tips for ridding your writing life of procrastination. So, though I know my tips and tricks may not work for everyone, here are my chosen dilly-dally busters. Meanwhile, I'm gonna try to figure out what, exactly, "meme" means...

1) Blog About It. Are you having trouble finding motivation? Post your concerns. The mental and physical process of getting it (the problem) down and defined may be enough to kick-start your juices. Not to mention, your network of fellow bloggers can both empathize, showing you you're not alone in the world, and encourage, providing you with the added support you may need to get going.

2) Let's Get Physical. Thank you, Olivia Newton-John, for now I'll be singing your song (sans leotard and headband, of course) all the live-long day... There's something to be said for a few minutes of exercise. Truly, I think there's actually some kind of endorphin or hormone or gas or somethin' that's given off when you're heart rate has been increased while exercising, and it proves to serve your creativity. But though I don't know much about biology, I agree that the process of working out your bodily kinks and energizing yourself can boost your thoughts and get you geared up for your stalled project. So get hoppin'! Or running. Or jazzercising. Whichever. (I like Kathy Kaehler's Get Fit Class on DVD, found in the bargain bins of Target for $2.50. Really.)

3) Strike A Balance. I know this is a recurring theme with me, but I can't speak enough of balance. If all areas of your life (for me they're God/my faith, family/home, and writing) are evenly considered, your mind will be at peace. Then, you'll be prepared (and ready!) for those writing-related thoughts to come ahead full-steam.

4) Take A Break. If you're really having that much trouble, it means a break is in order. And you can fulfill this need in a number of ways, all across the spectrum. It could be that all you need is an afternoon to yourself, doing something you love, just for you. Go antiquing. Or visit the gym. Or try quail hunting. (Mmm. Quail...) Or, if a greater respite is needed, keep your writing tucked away for several days or weeks. Go away if you can. Whatever your pleasure, the rejuvenation it provides you may be what your mind needed to get back on track.

5) Arm Yourself With Resources. If you can't actually make yourself write, immerse yourself another way. Keep handy a list of helpful websites, a stack of great books that get you in the mood. Ahem, for writing. Give yourself some time to absorb the information within. Eventually the bug will bite, and you'll be getting your own words out again before you know it.

6) Take Out Stock In Mead. I seriously keep notebooks everywhere: one in the kitchen, bathroom, at my desk, on my nightstand, and in The Burgundy Turd. Er, um... my van, that is. It's hard for me to keep up with and drag just one around, and this ensures that whenever inspiration hits I've got a method with which to capture it. Then, next time I sit down at my computer, I have some notes to get me started. With any luck, the idea will flow and culminate for me, without cause for procrastinating. And it may for you, too.

7) Sweat The Small Stuff. Okay, I'm not trying to argue the concept behind the books of a similar (but opposite) name. I just mean that life is full of teeny, tiny (though also giant and hard to ignore) bits of fodder. Be aware of your happenings, your surroundings day-in and day-out. We're supposed to write about what we know, write? I mean... right? So use your daily life as inspiration; you know that better than anything else. All the small things, if approached well, can turn into something grand at the hands of a writer.

And again, this is one of those "Tag! You're it!" type deals. Can I tag myself, times 7? 'Cuz then my work is nearly done. No? Okay...

Well, I don't think I've got seven people in queue who haven't already been tagged by me. There are some from whom I'd love to get tips, but I hesitate to hit 'em again. So - maybe this is a cop-out - if you read this and you've like to share your own 7 tips, have at it. (Please let me know via comment that you've done so.) And good luck!

Friday, February 1, 2008

February: Here I Come!

I feel decent about what I accomplished in January. Though our family's sickliness kept me offline for much of two weeks, I was able to get quite a bit done. I checked into three freelance jobs, securing one. (Check out my articles at Type-A Mom.) Submitted 9 articles: 3 rejections, 3 published, and 3 I haven't heard on yet. I also brainstormed on my next column (due come spring) and saw the publication of installment #2. Woo hoo!

This week comes to a close just as a new month begins. I have a lot to look forward to in February with my writing (certainly not anything pertaining to Valentine's Day, my husband will likely ensure...) , and I'm excited to begin! I have some carryover goals from last month, but new ones I'm excited to pursue, as well. In the coming weeks I hope to:

*Submit proposal to another local paper about new column
*Submit entry for the Erma Bombeck writing competition (we have until the 17th!)
*Submit/query articles to mags as I'm able
*Publish several articles online with Type-A Mom
*Add to novel word count (this is my biggest individual goal for the month)
*Blog on both Something She Wrote and A Believer's Blog more regularly

Here's to a successful month for all of us!