Saturday, November 29, 2008

General Thoughts

Though Thanksgiving has come and gone, I'm suffering from Holiday Brain. I guess this is where I'm tricked into thinking there's more relevance to the subsequent days than there really is, and it makes me unfocused. And so it's a struggle to get back into blogging.

But! I have an easy one for today.

We spent yesterday decorating our tree and all, but also moving furniture in from the garage and finally starting the process of making our house feel like a home. [Though there's still some finish work yet to be done. *sigh*] You'll not be surprised to hear I spent a lot of time getting my "reading and writing nook" just.right. Though there's more to this space that I'll show you another time, for today I have two pictures.

Here's my desk! At first glance, it just looks like an old table. But the story behind it is that this was my mother-in-law's college desk. She passed away in 2003, and that I can use it as my own is a special thing... Just picture me sitting here, putting that BIC (butt-in-chair) writing technique to use. So exciting! (You may notice the cap on the balcony wall and the beam to the left are still light - they'll be stained to match the redwood.)

And... drum roll please... my reading chair! Remember I told you misterwrites wasn't too fond of the chair? Last night I found him sitting in it. He said, "I like this nice, cozy place you've made here." He'd better not get too comfortable...

Oh! And I did tell a couple of buddies I'd show the living room with its new carpet. So here's a bonus picture of our tree.

Hope you have a great weekend! Our family's going to attempt ice skating tonight. Wish me no broken bones or injured parts. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


It was horrible.

My fingers began to shake. My heart began to thunder. I couldn't breathe. I panicked.

My internet wasn't working.

I was gone the majority of yesterday* and, upon returning home in the evening, discovered our internet service was down. I tried the whole rigamarole: Resetting the modem. Shutting down and restarting the computer. Launching a sharp pen at the monitor. Nothing worked. NOTHING WORKED.

I was frustrated, as I always am when I can't get online the instant I want to. But I took it as a sign that I didn't need to be occupying myself in such a way, and moved on to other things. And I figured my computer-genius husband could make it all better when he got home.

Not quite. So much for his genius.

The same happened this morning, and it took a call to our internet service provider (which I really, really dislike) to sort it out. After confirming my phone number eight times (Yes! That's my number!) and being told our access password was "Q... U... A...--" (Yes. That's my name, and I do know how to spell it. Thankyouverymuch.), the problem was targeted.

I followed their directions, and now we're back up! Whew. I couldn't have gone all day without internet.

Well, maybe if I chose to do so. Really. I could have.

But it wasn't my choice today.


I hope everyone has a warm and blessed Thanksgiving. May you feel the love of your family and friends, even if you're far from home, and be aware of all for which you can give thanks.

*Some friends lost their son last week, and yesterday was the funeral. I will remain steadfast in my prayers for his family as they continue on after this tragedy. In his honor...

precious FLETCHER
born 8-9-2008 ... entered into rest 11-20-2008
Chris and Laura, we love you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


If you remember from my post last week, I won MommaSaid's Housewife Award. I'd not bring it up again, except that my goodies came in the mail yesterday!

Seriously, it's probably one of the only certificates I've gotten as an adult, and who can go wrong with a FREE paperback? The book is Murder Takes the Cake, a cozy mystery by Gayle Trent. And as coincidence would have it, my bloggy buddy Joanne interviewed Gayle about the book a few weeks ago for Women on Writing. Check it out!

Thanks to Jen Singer and MommaSaid. And kudos to Joanne, as well, for such a stellar author interview. Can't wait to read the book!

Monday, November 24, 2008


So often my days are filled with ideal moments, flashes of perfection. Whether it's that I'm privy to the tenderness between a mother and her child, as she leans forward to comfort with a kiss, or when I hear a secondhand story about a woman running across six lanes of morning traffic - while wearing her bathrobe and slippers, they all strike a chord.

They're instances that touch my writer's sensibility; snapshots taken by my mind's eye to pull out and review, possibly write about, at a later date.

One such moment happened yesterday, while sitting in church for the special Thanksgiving service. One man, a dear family friend and brother in Christ, put his heart and voice into a choir song. As I watched tears stream from his eyes, I filed away the vision he created: Love, humility, reverence. Perhaps I'll use it someday.

Tell me about one of your recent snapshots.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sally Says...

So I have another blog. Did you know? Sally and Me started as a chronicle of my adventures with Sally, my AlphaSmart 3000 (word processor). Really, we did well together, blogging and making notes of our journeys through the written land, but then things got busy, Sally got sidetracked, and I had to opt out of further posts. [I can't bear to delete it completely; for now, I leave it dangling in cyberspace.]

In the meantime...

Sally found an affinity for baking and cooking and the like, and last month she left home for enrollment at The Culinary Institute of America. By all reports (including her mentor, Sony Vaio) she's flourishing in her new surroundings and, since I promised our readers I'd update occasionally, I thought I'd share her most recent letter. Here's what Sally had to say:

dear janna,

i'm having such a good time here at cia. every day we learn some new cooking technique, practice using a kitchen gadget, or create an amazing dessert (i've mastered a chocolate ganosh torte with your name on it). it's fabulous! seriously, i think i've found my calling. (now, janna, don't let that news upset you. i know you think i was meant to be a writer, like you, but i've found my niche. it's my destiny. this is who i'm supposed to be.)

just yesterday we studied shrimp. did you know there are countless ways to prepare shrimp? you can boil it, broil it, saute it, fry it, filet it, grill it, bake it, toss it... bubba was right! it's one of my new favorite things, especially when served with a sweet jalapeno-pepper and pineapple tartar sauce. simply to die for, janna. to.die.for.

anyway, that's all the time i have right now. my kitchen buddy (kind of like a lab partner) and i have to perfect our mesquite barbecue sauce by tomorrow, or we lose certain kitchen privileges.

give my love to the fam. and can you tell paco [misterwrites' laptop] i said what's up?


So, as you can see, Sally's enjoying herself. Makes me proud. *sniff*

I plan to pen a response letter over the weekend. But I'm unsure about one thing... Do I tell her misterwrites sold Paco?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I've Been Tagged (it's deer season, you know)

Well, I've kind of been tagged. Angie, Blogger's resident Gumbo Writer, answered some interesting questions over on her blog today, and offered the format up for anyone who's game. This is perfect timing for me, because I've always found such exercises great for mental flow.

*brain lurches ... grinds to halt as false start becomes apparent*

So maybe without further ado, here are some (mostly) unknown facts about me. Of course, that's not to say they aren't trivial facts you'll have nothing with which to do. But maybe it'll be fun anyway...

*squirts a little WD-40 on gears*

Five Things I Was Doing 5 Years Ago:
*living in a duplex we loved, but were quickly outgrowing
*raising an almost-one-year-old
*giving thought to when a second baby would be nice
*kicking off my writing career, by completing a children's picture book manuscript (6 rejections, haven't sent out in a long while, have since "moved on") and getting first check ever for publication (in Western New York Family Magazine - Social Motherfly, one of my best pieces, which I can find nowhere, on disk or paper copy...)
*cultivating a new friendship with two women from church, who have become like sisters in the years since

Five Things on My To Do List:
*finish touch-ups around newly painted areas in our home
*urethane trim
*rid self of headache
*Christmas shop

Five Things I Like to Snack on:
*pretzels with mozzarella cheese
*fudgy brownies
*granola bars
*crackers (think Chicken-in-a-Biscuit)
*warm tortillas

Five Things I Would Do If I was a Millionaire:
*give to our church (to then help others)
*put into accounts that will accumulate over the years
*buy my husband a pinball machine
*shop without making a beeline to clearance, perhaps without even looking at the price tags *gasp!*
*fly a group of girlfriends to a house in Maine for a long weekend getaway, sans hubbies and kids

Five Places I Have Lived:
Missouri x 5

Five Jobs I Have Had:
*Geoffrey Giraffe, mascot for Toys R Us, for charity events and store promotions
*server at Paradise Grill
*front desk at the Hilton (I was not meant for hospitality)
*Mental Health Technician (junior counselor) on adolescent psych unit
*Account Executive for a publishing company (I know what you're thinking... but it was a commercial print and yearbook publisher)

Five People I Am Tagging:
My bloggy buddies exceed the number 5 so, like Angie, I'll leave it open to whomever's interested. Have fun!

And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where in the World is Janna's Motivation?

To be honest, I think I must've thrown it out. See, there were all the soggy Kleenex, back when I was dealing with that monster sinus infection. Maybe I scooped it up with the limp masses of tissue and unknowingly tossed it out. Or, maybe it got carried away with all the old bathroom guts the day we tore everything out and installed the new stuff. Perhaps it's clinging to the bowl of the old toilet right this minute, waiting for transfer to the Plumber's Graveyard.


Maybe, just maybe, it's in the trunk of my car. It's possible I moved it back there when I shifted some of the girls' toys and books and things from the floorboard. It's certainly worth a look.

But wherever it is, I hope it's not lost forever. Because I really need it. Not only have I been unable to work on Novel #2 for WEEKS, but I'm having trouble coming up with good and thoughtful blog post ideas. This does not bode well for a writer. Or rather, Girl Who Calls Herself a Writer. Can't rightly claim the title if I can't do it.

I blame it (just a bit) on the fact that not only am I still recuperating from all those things I've been dealing with (I whine not - I know we all have such things shaping our existence day to day), but the fact that my house is in such disarray. Sure, we're making progress (HUGE!) with our remodel, but all the "normal" stuff - laundry, dishes, plain ol' organization - falls to the wayside in the meantime. And when all that stuff backs up, my brain gets frazzled. Discombobulated, even. ('Tis a great word I just had to throw in the mix.) I'm not in control, I feel no balance. Who can sit down and pound out a great novel when that's the case? Not me.

So my hope is that, while we work to get the last of our Before The Holidays Projects done, I can get all the other things reined in, too. And then maybe when I get my new office area put together, where I can spread my things over my desk and get a feel for my new space - without the threat of so many other things looming over me - I'll find my motivation sitting right in front of me. Like a beautifully wrapped present, waiting to be opened with flourish by yours truly.

Here's hoping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday's Stuff and Things

Usually on this day each week, I tell you about whatever's on my mind. It's often a jumble of things, from stressors at home and activities for my day to my writer's life and goals or statuses.

But today I want to know about your stuff and things.

Do you have a random thought you want share? Or a thought weighing heavy on your mind?

What's up with you this Tuesday?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Whatcha Readin'?

As most writers tend to be, I'm also an avid reader. Right now two novels divide my readerly attention: A Tale of Two Sisters, the story of close sisters who abandon their relationship when circumstances make it easy, written by Anna Maxted, and Emma, the classic tale by Jane Austen.

What are you reading now? What do you recommend? Help create a list to keep nearby for the cold winter months ahead.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Momma Said I Get The Housewife Award!

Jen Singer is a writer whose book You're A Good Mom (and your kids aren't so bad either) is getting stellar reviews. But in addition to watching the rise of her narrative non-fiction delight, she manages the online playground, where mommies can gather, get a giggle and catch a break. Check it out via the link. It's a neat site!

MommaSaid also holds regular Housewife Awards ceremonies, consideration for which follows submission of a story about life as a mom and housewife. Jen and her crew look for "a funny story or situation that sums up the occasional craziness of at-home motherhood." (You can also nominate friends or family members.) At the end of each entry period one candidate is chosen, and a deserving (albeit harried) mom wins a fabulous certificate for display among her most prized possessions, as well as a shiny new book, title chosen courtesy MommaSaid.

Guess who just won? Betcha don't need a hint. Er. Especially because I told you in the post title...

Me! And I feel honored.

My submission was an anecdote about one particularly stressful Sunday. To read Jen's write-up of my Slapdash Sunday, visit MommaSaid. (You'll need to scroll down just a bit. When you see my face, you'll know you've found the right spot!)

While you're there, enter with your own story - remember you can nominate others - and see if you can snag the special honor.

And remember: If the housewife is happy, the whole family is happy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Numbness is Wearing Off

Back in September, when I sent a partial submission to Avalon Books [they ask writers to submit the first three chapters with the query letter], I was numb. I'd prepared my packet in an excited haze, after having found Bliss Lake met their detailed manuscript (ms) guidelines that morning. My drive to the post office was fuzzy, as was the handing over of the manila envelope marked for NYC, and as I drove home I had to reassure myself I'd done everything properly.

I didn't give it much further thought, though; there was plenty to keep me busy at home. So something like 3 business days (and a weekend) later, a letter in the mail took me by complete surprise. Avalon liked what they saw, and wanted to read the whole thing! So in a similar haze, I packaged my full ms, and made another unremarkable drive to the USPS. I think I remember my heart hammering as I placed the thicker, more significant envelope atop the counter and told the clerk, "Send it priority, please." Did I want delivery confirmation? Absoflippin'lutely.

I still felt so fuzzy and detached. It was surreal, taking that step. Because I knew that, even if the outcome wasn't my ultimate dream of landing a publisher, it was, at the very least, a step in the right direction. To even be considered by a major house? My 5 year-old was helping me think of people to call and tell, that's how big it was. Is. To me.

My ms arrived at Avalon's offices on October 1st. I haven't heard anything, though I expect it will take several months more. And it's been okay, because that haze had settled, kind of keeping my brain from expecting too much. What with kids to raise, a house to remodel, new writing projects to work on, I didn't have to think about Bliss Lake and its ultimate place.

And then yesterday something changed. I had the thought, Could it really be that a publisher is looking at my book? How did that happen? It may have been sparked by my friend Jen, who said, "'ve got a novel completed and being considered by a publisher..." Holy heck, I do? I do!

And now, for the first time, I'm letting myself think of all the implications. About how badly I want to be published, so others can read my words, hear my stories. How much I want to hold a paperback in my hands, one with my name emblazoned across the front. About the fact that a huge decision regarding my life, my passion, lies in "The Editors" hands at Avalon.

I think I need to lie down.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Only In a Book?

There's a boy, five years old. His head is shaven, his clothes unkempt. A scar or two creases his skin here or there. His words are mean, and he's often in trouble. He doesn't know how to treat a friend, or maybe even define one. He lives in a home with a mother who offers no rules. No structure, no direction, perhaps no love.

Your heart breaks for this little boy we'll call Dallas. You're sensitive to his story, whatever it may be.

And then you hear the story, at least part of it, from the lips of your innocent, unassuming daughter. She's in his kindergarten class.

"His daddy died. Do you know what happened?"

You feel your warm core begin to wither.

"His daddy was sleeping. Dallas wanted to wake him up, but he wasn't breathing. He wouldn't wake up. And the cops and firemen came to help, but he died."

Suddenly it all makes sense. And your heart is broken.

To read such a story in a book would make us feel a gamut of things. Sadness, distress, worry, because we know things like that really happen, but also relief, because we know what we're reading is fictional, conjured by the author's imagination.

As writers we hope to touch readers so; to affect them with our words, so they feel all those raw emotions. And it's stories like the one above, the things we feel about it, whether it's something in our own lives or something we've heard about second-hand, that we draw from. It's things like this that build our human experience, our store of reactions and thoughts and feelings that make our writing so full and real.

It's part of what makes a good writer.

What else makes a good writer?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Question

I want to ask you one question. Nevermind its intent, which is merely to get you thinking, or how I may answer it. Just take it where you will and answer in the comments, however you feel led to do so...


Monday, November 10, 2008

Easing Back In

Hi, all. Though I'm not ready for a full presence online yet, I thought I'd post an update...

My grandma has returned home from the hospital, as has my dad, who was the "person of great importance" I mentioned in my last post. [I kept his identity quiet because we didn't want to alarm family, given it wasn't a life or death circumstance, and what with everyone already mourning my uncle's death]. A minor procedure was done on my grandma, so she recuperates, as my dad still struggles with pain and neuropathy related to his multiple sclerosis. My prayers are still heavy for him. And though we weren't able to attend my uncle's funeral, which was several hours' drive away, I'm told it was a beautiful military service in his honor.

It was a rough week, both physically and emotionally, and parts of me are still numb. I've had a nice break from certain aspects of life, whereas others have been highlighted. I've a greater appreciation for my family, all of whom I love so much. I've also been able to assess my role as a writer, and I can't wait until things have found a semblance of normalcy, so I can get back with it. Life After Death calls to me.

Thanks so much for all your kind comments and prayers. I was incredibly touched by the warm thoughts and support, and I couldn't ask for a better network of friends and bloggie buddies.

Best to you all. Perhaps by end of week I can get back to a regular post schedule.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I've made the decision to temporarily suspend posts here at Something She Wrote.

Today I got word that my grandmother is in the hospital with a potentially serious condition, and one of my uncles passed away this morning. All this follows closely on the heels of a hospital stay for someone of great importance in my life. Combined with everything mentioned in today's earlier post, I'm a bit overwhelmed.

I'm going to take a break from all things intrawebs. I've got to regroup and wrap my head around the things that have been happening. I'll miss our online connection and your feedback, and I'll miss reading your blog posts, too.

But I won't be gone indefinitely; just for a few days or so. I wish you all the best with your writing, and everything else, in the meantime. I'll be back soon.

And thanks for your support and prayers.

Tuesday's Stuff and Things

First, the stuff:

The house comes along! I'm wearing myself out but the walls are getting painted, and everything looks great. Though much still looms before me (power sanding, anyone?), the master bathroom is underway - we have a new shower stall! - and I had TWO rockin' hot showers yesterday! Our wood-burning fireplace is being framed in, and everything should come together for the main floor's carpet installation this Sunday. Please send good thoughts, so all of this gets done without too much distress or strain.

I've been fighting the uckies for days. They have no place, and I have no time, so they best be on their way. Since you're already sending good thoughts for the above, would you mind sending more for this? Thanks.

The weather has been incredible the last few days! Here it is November, and we've had sunny days in the low seventies. Can you believe it? If it weren't for the downed leaves, one would question if we're really smack-dab in fall.

And the things:

Avalon has had my manuscript for one month and three days. Really, that's barely even a dent in the amount of time they could take. How much longer will it be? I wish I could guess. It's not been too bad though, putting it out of my mind, with plenty of other things to concentrate on. Will they like Bliss Lake? I remain faithfully confident but, again, wish I could guess. To use a tired phrase: Only time will tell.

I haven't done any work on my WIP, Life After Death, in close to two weeks. I don't like that, and must make an effort to write something, anything. I'm in that phase where it's easier to think about it than it is to sit down and do it. Know what I mean?

I'm currently beta reading two manuscripts. I'm honored to have been asked, and love getting a first peek at fellow writers' works. And I appreciate that they take my writing seriously enough to think I can help with theirs. Thanks for this opportunity, friends. I promise to do my best.

And thanks again for all the birthday wishes yesterday! It was a great day, and I feel like I welcomed 30 with grace and happiness. Oh, and prunes. Yes. PRUNES. Here's my bouquet from the three friends who took me to lunch. Look closely.

PS. Don't forget to VOTE!

Monday, November 3, 2008

30 Things For Which I'm Thankful

I wasn't sure if I should post this tidbit, but I guess there's no reason not to. So... Today is my 30th birthday! Who wants a cupcake?

*throws confetti*

There are so many things to be thankful for, and I'll list 30 of them here. In no particular order. Except numbered.

*curses mess just made with confetti*

1) life
2) sound mind, sound body (which could technically count as two, but they sound good together)
3) family
4) God's blessings
5) a nice and safe-from-the-elements house
6) food
7) iced mocha
8) sandalwood candles
9) lavender body wash
10) hot showers
11) good books
12) time to myself
13) dear friends
14) PEOPLE magazine
15) music
16) the ability to write and share my words
17) conversations with one who understands me
18) possibilities
19) clearance sales
20) flip flops
21) finished projects
22) Mexican food from El Maguey (Melanie - what does that translate to?)
23) iced mocha (so good, I'm counting it again!)
24) online networking
25) thoughtful friends
26) family reunions
27) my babies
28) eating out and not having to clean up
29) migraine-free days
30) my sister's "old fart" jokes, now that I've reached the big 3-0. But I'll have you know, she's almost thirty-four. And she's older and fartier than I am. (Just don't tell her I said that.)

Happy Day!