Saturday, April 29, 2006

Saturday Update, 9:27 p.m.

I did it!
I finished!

Granted, I still probably need to go in and do a thorough edit of the new stuff that I wrote, but I made it through to the finish.

By sometime next week, this novel is going to be in the mail, on its way to the agent!!!


Saturday Update: 7:26 p.m.

Nearly four more pages (single spaced) written. Writing black moment as we speak.

Went and got groceries. Made sugar-free cake with sugar-free frosting. Have decided that sugar free cake and frosting DOES NOT taste anything like normal cake and frosting. Very disappointed.

Talked to Dad. Hung bird feeder by tree near bedroom window. Mailed chapter forms off to national RWA office.

Paced a lot. Had a square of dark chocolate. Drank lots of water. Jammed to Keith Urban.

Put in Loreena McKennit's The Book of Secrets. Should inspire the creativity!

Back to work!

Saturday Update: 2:52 p.m.

Four pages written (single spaced) on revision. Fight scene completed. Whew!

Slept in, took a long walk with the dog, and balanced checking account.

Now it's time to get back to it!

Friday, April 28, 2006

My Challenge

I'm giving myself a challenge this weekend.

I'm going to finish my novel.

Now, that's not as far-fetched as you might think. I really believe that I can do this. Or at least, I can get very very close to finishing it. I might not have it send-out ready, i.e. margins, spacing, font, etc., etc., but I want the edits to be finished.

Think I can do it? Stay tuned for updates and Monday's revealing post! ;-)

A Bit of Fun...

Kelly tagged me to do this particular meme, so here 'tis:

Six minutes to yourself - how would you spend them: sitting on my couch, no music, no t.v., and just relaxing

Six bucks to spend right now - how would you spend it: on a book, of course! (a very cheap book!)

Six items you'd leave behind if your house were on fire: (1) The clothes that no longer fit me (2) my VHS movies (3) the box of books in my closet (4) that pair of shoes that hurt my feet(5) my daughter's stuffed animals (6) Rejection letters!

Six items you'd grab if your house were on fire: (1) My daughter, (2) my dog (3) my history books; (4) my Bible (5) computer (if that's even possible!) (6) my Snoopy collection

Six words you love: You are offering me how much?

Six things you want to accomplish before you leave the earthly plane:
(1) Make writing my career (2) travel extensively through Europe (3) see my daughter grow to be a beautiful woman (4) hold my grandchildren (5) meet my Italian relatives in Italy (6) buy my dream house

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Creative Ramblings...

Not much progress on much of anything. That's rather depressing.

I just feel like I haven't been able to catch up with life this week. I blame it on my weekend. If I do not have "down time," I can't cope with the week ahead.

Finishing the edits to my novel is probably the most time-sensitive thing I need to do at this point. But when I sit down to work on it, my fingers lock. I can't seem to write anything of value. I long to open up my World War II novel and work on it, instead. BUT, the WWII novel is not going to an agent at this point and the other one is. So...I sit and fret and fume over the keyboard.

I managed to work out on Monday, was sick Tuesday, had to get groceries on Wednesday, and tonight, I have orders to take my daughter to the book fair, otherwise there will be trouble in our household. Hubby wants me to come over and spend time with him, I won't get to work out, and probably not much writing will be accomplished. (And that sentence was so passive I can't stand it, but I also am just going to leave it there as a reminder for me to NOT write in the passive voice.)

I need to get caught up on everyone's blogs, but haven't done that yet, either.

So what I'm trying to say is...



Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tagged: Six Weird Things About Me

Rene tagged me, so here are six weird things about me.

1) I would rather watch classic movies than today's movies.

2) I hate summertime because I can't stand hot weather.

3) I don't make my bed in the morning.

4) I can't swim.

5) I would rather attend a history lecture than go to the movies.

6) I hate bananas, but I love banana bread.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Procrastination is Never a Good Thing...

At least when you're dealing with the dentist.

I waited too long to go to the dentist and get this one tooth fixed. As a result, I am now the happy recipient of a root canal appointment.

Big, hugh, enormous SIGH.

It's my own fault, really. I should have quit putting off the inevitable. But I had that whole fear of dentists thing going on, despite the fact that I've been to the dentist plenty in my life. I suppose the majority of the time was when I was in high school and my mother made me go to the dentist. Now that I don't have to worry about that, I tend to put it off more and more.

Well, it finally caught up to me.

Besides a whomping $500 bill that is attached to the root canal, I have the joy of sacrificing a Saturday for it.

Oh joy.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Wonderful Weekend

Wow. I was busy on Saturday. The National History Day judging went well. I judged the junior group performances and was just in awe of what some of these kids managed to come up with. The theme this year was "Taking a Stand" and so we had quite a few interesting historical topics to watch. I always love to volunteer my time for History Day because it's just so darn important to get these kids excited about history.

After I judged, I went and did a little shopping at the mall, then went over and saw my mother-in-law since she was in town visiting my husband. And then it was off to speak at the Bess Streeter Aldrich event. It went very well. Even had people laughing at my lame attempt at humor! I also had an elderly gentleman come up to me afterwards and ask, "Do you speak for senior citizens' groups?" and I responded, "Sure I would!" So he said he will be getting in touch with me. I am looking forward to that, whenever it will be.

When I got home on Saturday night, I was exhausted. And I slept a long time on Sunday, probably too long. But I think I needed to. Unfortunately, that put me behind on my writing chapter's BIAW (book in a week) program that we're doing. I think I managed to write five words on Sunday. Hubby took me out to supper and then we went over to Barnes and Noble where I bought Celeste Bradley's newest book - I just love her stuff. It's an automatic buy for me.

Tuesday is a dentist appointment and my chapter meeting. Ugh. I hate going to the dentist. Hate, hate, HATE. I would rather be knocked out then have to go through it. But I refuse to do that unless someone is in there with me. The last time I was at the dentist, it was rough. I think they filled three cavities at one time and I had a pounding headache the rest of the day for keeping my mouth open so long. From now on, they are going to do one at a time. That's easier on my head and my checking account.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's Friday

It's Friday!!!! The best day of the week!

Just for fun, I thought I'd post a pic of my dog, Charlie, when he was a puppy. He's now nearly 7 years old, which is 49 in dog years. Right now, he's laying underneath my desk, content just to be beside me. We went for a walk last evening where he sniffed nearly every clump of grass in sight and he blissfully ignored any other dogs around. I don't know what I'd do without him.

I spent the majority of last evening working on my speech for Saturday night. It's an interesting mixture of my writing journey and my love of history. I'm not quite sure how to end it, but I have a feeling it will work itself out somehow. I'm looking forward to that night. I hope I don't get nervous!

I'm also ecstatic because my brother and sister-in-law loaned me the money for my plane ticket to Atlanta!!! How awesome is that??? They are just so wonderful. But that's what our family does - we help each other out.

I'm not sure when to buy the flight. I've heard that they actually go on sale closer to your departure date - sixty days out or so - but in the last month, the flight I need has jumped in price $25 or so. I'm thinking of waiting until next week to see where the prices are. But if any of you have any good advice on buying cheap airline tickets, let me know. I've been checking all the big names online - and I'm not sure if it would be better to go through an airline or not. Maybe I'll call tomorrow and find out.

EDIT: I just bought my plane ticket!!! I'm officially going to Atlanta!!!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Getting Antsy!

I'm ready to move on to my next novel - a World War II romantic thriller. I think I came up with a great idea for a series, but it's going to take a lot of research. But it's research that I can't wait to do!

It shouldn't take me much longer to finish up my revisions for the historical novel, then it's off to the agent. And while I wait for her to make a decision, I'm going to concentrate on finishing my inspirational and researching my upcoming series. And if that means a trip to the bookstore, either online or in person, that won't be a problem! :-)

Saturday will be a busy day, but the funny thing is, I will be eating free all day! I'm judging at the Nebraska History Day competition, (which includes breakfast and lunch!) and that evening, I'm giving my speech on historical writing and research for the Bess Streeter Aldrich Short Story Awards Banquet, (which includes dinner!) something I'm really looking forward to.

Unfortunately, my head is still giving me fits. I'm not sure if the antibiotics they gave me for the sinus infection didn't work or if it's not a sinus infection. Either way, I'm still contending with a headache. If I ignore it, it usually doesn't bother me too much. But I think a trip to the chiropractor might not be a bad idea.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Rush to Relax

What a nice weekend. Unfortunately, it was over all too soon.

I've come to the conclusion that home is where I go to regain my sense of balance, to reevaluate where I'm at in life and where I want to go. I always feel a sense of peace when I go back home, but at the same time, I couldn't live there again. It's great for visiting and remembering, but I as a person no longer "fit" with it.

Western Nebraska is different from Eastern Nebraska - as night and day, as the old saying goes. W. Nebraska is poorer, the land is not as rich, and it is sparsely populated in some areas, giving you the feeling that you are literally out in the middle of nowhere. The prairie stretches out in endless desolation in some areas, with not a tree in sight. The grass has not yet turned green and when it does, it won't stay green for long if the drought continues. My brother continually wages a war against the weather in an attempt to produce a good crop for the year. But there is hail and wind and drought to fight.

In contrast, E. Nebraska is hilly, full of trees, with lush, green grass—and people. Farming is more prosperous here and so are people's attitudes. I live in the city, but the countryside around me is truly God's country. But there is a vibrancy to the city that I simply love. I desribed it to my family as a thrum, a heartbeat, that I have come to crave. Yes, we have a lot of the same weather as in the western part - drought is always a hard thing to contend with on either end of the state - but the mentality in E. Nebraska is also different. More positive, upbeat. Not as laid back. Willing to get things done and done now. Ready to embrace change.

But there's something about sitting on my dad's front porch or my brother's deck and gazing out over the pasture, seeing the horizon, the magnificent blue sky, listening to the cow's mooing, the sound of the wind, that brings me peace. However, it's not long before I crave the thrum of the city again. I'm very glad that I can have both.

The weekend was wonderful. My daughter was enthralled with the ten baby kittens that my brother's two farm cats had, and she kept visiting them throughout the weekend. My family had lunch together on Saturday and then headed over to visit my grandfather who is in the nursing home. He was doing so well - I nearly cried while sitting there visiting with him. It's been so touch and go with him the past few years that I treasure every moment I'm able to spend with him.

My daughter and my niece colored eggs and then later that evening, my two brothers and my niece and I played a game of "knock out" on the basketball hoop outside. I definitely got my exercise! But it was so much fun just to hang out with my brothers. I don't get to do that very often!

Easter Sunday was very nice - church together as a family, a lovely dinner (and my granfather was able to come out to the farmhouse where he grew up and where my brother now lives), an Easter egg hunt for the kids, lots of good food, beautiful weather, and good conversation.

I really didn't want to come home yesterday. I felt so peaceful and relaxed - I could have used a few more days of that!

But when we got home, we had another surprise - my husband's cat had her kitties that very day - four little tiny fluff balls. They are so cute!

I'm dragging today - we got home after 11 p.m. and I know I didn't go to sleep until after midnight. There's something about driving for five hours that wears you out and also keys you up at the same time. I needed to destress a bit, and I really didn't get the chance to do that. It could be that I was actually working on my plot while riding in the car - and I got my fight scene choreographed. Yay! Now I just have to write it. :-)

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter!

I'm heading to western Nebraska for Easter weekend to visit my grandparents and my brother and his family. It will be a quick trip, but I'm looking forward to it all the same.

May you have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Becoming A Writer

Over at Rachel's blog, she referenced Diana Peterfreund's post about when she knew she was a writer. I posted a similar story about this on the Villa in Tuscany blog, but that was way back in August.

So here's my story.

Tell me yours!

Ever get sick of your story?

I am.

Really, really sick of it.

I want it to be done. Sent to the agent. Forgotten about.

Maybe that's why I have a headache!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

145 Years Ago Today...

The American Civil War began with the firing on Fort Sumter by the Confederate States of America. The war ended on April 9, 1865, nearly four years to the day that it started.

Back in the Saddle

I'm back at work. Yesterday, the doctor said I had a sinus infection. I thought as much. So she loaded me up with pills and I went home to rest. I thought today would be better, but I don't feel much of a difference. And I'm supposed to go to the dentist tomorrow! I'm not at all sure I want to go through that. If this head isn't much better, than I will call and cancel.

I did manage to do some work at home the past few days, so I'm pretty much caught up with work. That's a good feeling.

I also did something I wasn't expecting to do last on my novel! I spent probably 45 minutes writing last night and it felt great. I haven't done anything with my novel since I wrote the whole "I can't write!!!" post. But I feel ready to tackle it again. I think taking a break made a lot of difference.

Now if I can just ignore this pounding headache, the world will be good!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Day at the Zoo

Isn't this lion just adorable? I managed to snap a few pictures of her sleeping. She looks so peaceful, ignoring the scads of obnoxious eople watching her.

Well, there was one large cat who definitely didn't ignore those obnoxious people.

A beautiful, white Bengal tiger paced his cage, back and forth, back and forth. My daughter was in awe. She loves tigers and this one was less than three feet away from her. She eagerly demanded I get a picture, but I thought I'd do better than that - I started videotaping him. He largely ignored me, still doing his pacing, and my heart broke when I thought of how he undoubtedly longed to be in the wild, hunting some poor antelope or unsuspecting rabbit. What power, I thought. What majesty.

Until he turned around, lifted his tail, and sprayed me with pee.

And I caught it all on film.

He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that he didn't want to be videotaped and he didn't want me staring at him in all his "majesty."

Everyone got a good laugh out of it, including me. After all, not many people can say they've been peed on by a white tiger. ;-)

There were lots of other great exhibits. The penguins were awesome with their swimming and diving antics (which I managed to videotape sans pee). We also saw jellyfish, sea otters, giraffes, elephants, and sharks.

But I'll always remember the white tiger. In fact, I plan to immortalize him someday in a story.

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's Massive Headache Day

Short post - I'm at home with a very bad headache. Don't know if it's a tension headache or maybe a sinus infection, but it's lingered for about a week. Today it's really bad. Sigh...

Weekend was good. I'll try and post tomorrow about our jaunt to the zoo yesterday, especially about the white tiger who let me know in no uncertain terms how unhappy he was with me videotaping him. :-)

Friday, April 07, 2006

What is Talent and What is Craft?

Diana Peterfreund
brought up an interesting point about yesterday's post. How do we define "learnable" talent vs. "inborn"?

Here's what I think.

I have a talent for putting words together. I can write prose that is readable and conveys my meaning. I have story ideas running through my head and for the most part, I can adequately portray those story ideas on paper. But I also have the desire to write. In fact, I have a quote on my desk that says, "God doesn't give you the desire without the talent." While this may be an idealistic quote, I believe it is true. Without the desire, I don't believe the talent will be there.

Can you learn to be a good writer? Yes, I believe you can. I have made leaps and bounds in my writing journey since I first started writing in the sixth grade. But here is the key. I had the desire to write. And I've kept at it for all these years. Even if you don't write for a few years, if the desire keeps nagging at you, begging you to sit down and write, you know that this is something you really want to do. I had the desire to learn how to knit once - but it didn't last very long. And to tell you the truth, I don't really care if I ever learn how to knit or not. The desire isn't there.

To me, you can't have the talent without the desire.

Now, is this completely off base? Am I drifting into psycho-babble with this? Quite possibly. It is Friday afternoon, after all.

Let me know your thoughts on this subject...I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This Is Me

There's been a few phrases running through my head the last few days...

Maybe you don't know how to do this writing thing after all.

Maybe you can't write a good novel.

Maybe you should quit.

I'm starting to doubt my writing abilities. It's not the talent - I believe I do have a talent for writing. But it's the craft part that I'm having a hard time with - all the little things a writer has to remember. Plot structure. Rising tension. Character emotions. Showing and not telling. Using the five senses. Writing a page-turner. Foreshadowing.

Don't worry - this is just a fleeting moment. It will eventually pass. Rene would probably say that I'm thinking too much, and she's probably right. I'm trying too hard to come up with something completely original for my plot, which is pretty much impossible anyway. But when I look at the books out there, I want mine to stand out and be that "high concept."

I can't quit. I won't quit. But it has been sheer torture the last few days. My brain has went around in circles in an attempt to get this stuff figured out. And then I read other author's books and I think, "Did I include that in my manuscript? Did I show instead of tell? Did I reveal my character's secret at the right time?"

I just need to relax, let go, and allow my mind to process everything. But it's easier said than done.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

On the Game of Golf and Writing

Ok, really. I have no reason to talk about golf. I don't even like the game. Well, that's not true - I like one part of the game. The first part. The part where you take the big club (the driver) and hit the golf ball as hard as you can. And I also like riding in the golf cart.

But that's about it.

Come to think of it, that's the way writing is a lot of the time for me. Each chapter can be thought of like each hole of golf. You start with a big swing and through a series of puts, slices, hooks, (and other assorted golfing terminology), you progressively move towards the end of the chapter - putting the little ball in the hole. The combination of all these little moves creates the build-up to the end of the game.

But there are black moments - the sand traps, the ponds, the brush. And you stand there with your golf club (pencil, pen, or fingers on the keyboard) madly hacking away because you can't get that stupid little ball (i.e. hero, heroine, villain, plotline,etc.) to go where you want it to go. And the tension! The curse words! The aggravation! The throwing of golf clubs (pens, pencils, Ming vases, plates, glasses!)!

But then there are the days when your golf game is good - you drive, the ball gets really close to the hole, and with three strokes, you put it in the hole. Or whatever it's called. (I TOLD you I know nothing about this game! I've played it once, if you don't count miniature golf!). Translated to fiction-writing terms, your characters' dialogue is awesome, they do what you want them to do, and your writing flows.

I feel like I'm having a bad golf game right now - but rest assured, it will pass. I actually got some writing done last night, but I'm still in need of a good brainstorming session to work out the details. Maybe I'll call an emergency board meeting for my RWA chapter. ;-)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Keeping the Tension

At our last RWA chapter meeting, we had a mini workshop on including tension in every scene of your novel. Since then, I've really focused on this particular aspect in my own novel. But I'm also noticing it in other places.

For example, we went to go see Ice Age: The Meltdown at the movies on Saturday night (excellent movie! I highly recommend it). As I watched, I couldn't help but notice how the writers had created tension in each and every scene - of course, there was more tension towards the end, the kind of "edge-of-your-seat" tension. There was definitely a roller-coaster feel to the movie - and that's true in most stories. You have certain points in your story that have much more tension than others. But is it imperative that every scene include tension?

Here's what I think. While I believe that every scene should propel your plot forward, I don't believe that every scene should have the sort of "edge of your seat" tension to it. If that were true, the reader would constantly be holding their breath - perhaps literally and figuratively - because the tension was so high.

I think there are degrees of tension. There's the fast-paced, action-oriented tension, the kind that leaves fingernail marks in your couch, and the slower, more subtle tension, that allows you to relax and catch your breath.

So how can you create this tension? Deb Dixon offered this idea at our conference last October that can also be used when you're creating your conflict.

When you're in the midst of plotting and trying to create tension in your novel, ask yourself, "Wouldn't it be terrible if..."

For example, in Independence Day (yes, it was a movie-watching weekend!), towards the end the jet fighters are realizing that they do not have enough missles to defeat the aliens. You think all is lost. Then another fighter (Randy Quaid, in a very funny role) shows up, says sorry he's late, and informs everyone that he has one more missile left. As he's headed for the spaceship, he prepares to fire. And then...the unthinkable happens. It malfunctions.

The tension went from low to high to super high. And it made me realize that this is a key component of story-telling. While I think I always realized this, watching it on the two movies really made it "click."

Of course, in certain novels, we're not going to have the kind of tension that could mean life or death for the planet. Instead, we're dealing on a much smaller scale. But when you ask yourself the question, "Wouldn't it be terrible if...", keep that in mind. The tension you produce must match the kind of story you're telling.

In Writing News...

I accomplished quite a bit on Saturday - three pages, I think - and took a nap! It was a wonderful, relaxing afternoon. I wish it would have lasted longer!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Remember Doobie?

According to my husband, Doobie has become the number one terror of the household. What was once a cute little puppy has turned into a cute little monster.

I think the poor guy is just lonely for female companionship. That being said, here are Doobie's likes and dislikes for all those potential puppy mates. ;-)

- chasing pregnant cat and getting swatted in face by said cat
- growling at anyone within ten feet of dog food bowl
- jumping on any human being kind enough to let him in the house
- peeing and/or pooping (P&P) in any area of the house unsupervised by adults
- cuddling next to best friend, Tiny (the St. Bernard/husky mix)
- escaping and roaming neighborhood
-jumping and scratching on backdoor
- food
-more food

- anyone coming near his food
- owner screaming at top of lungs after discovery of P&P incident
- being chased from house after said P&P incident
- cats coming too close to back fence
- rain or snow

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance!