Thursday, June 29, 2006

House Hunting


Here's our house. It's the first house we ever bought - built in 1909. Notice the Snoopy flag on the front porch. And BTW, that front porch is awesome for sitting and reading.

Unfortunately, it's time to let it go. We've outgrown it and we'd like to move to a better neighborhood.

Since the two stepsons have gone to stay with their mom in Kentucky for a month, hubby and I are going to be fixing up the house to put it on the market. We're installing new carpet in the living room, paint a bunch of other rooms, fix the nice goudges in the basement wall from moving furniture up and down the stairs, and paint some more.

I'm strangely looking forward to it.

But I'm not looking forward to moving again. I left a ton of stuff at hubby's house since I only took the "necessities" (which included nearly all of my books, minus a few shelves). If our marriage works out, then I'll be moving all of my stuff out of my apartment, too. And if it doesn't work out, well, I really want to find a house or a townhouse. I'm already sick of apartment living.
I've been searching for houses today and am rather frustrated. The housing market is not good right now - lots of property for sale and no one is buying. But that's not the bad thing - lots of these houses are WAY overpriced. Then there's the neighborhoods to take into consideration, the big back yard for the dogs, proximity to schools, work, etc., etc.

In a way, I almost would rather rent - if I could find a nice place that didn't charge me an exorbitant amount. But there is something to be said for owning your own home and not paying someone else to live.

What do you think? Hands down on owning a house or would you rather rent and let someone else take care of the upkeep?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On Editing and the Day Job

I've always loved to edit. In junior high and high school, I would relish taking my pencil and crossing out words, replacing them with stronger images.

I think I lost that love of language in the past few years, but since I've been reading Dwight Swain, I've rediscovered my love of editing.

Now, my hard copy is covered with ink. I'm ruthlessly cutting words that don't fit, replacing weak verbs with strong, adding vivid images where before there was a vast emptiness. I'm anxious to get back to my manuscript and keep working.

And therein lies the rub.

I think I've groused about this before. While I do love my day job, and it has made me a stronger writer, I really wish I could just stay home and write. But I also know that such a lifestyle isn't good for me, either. I've done that before and I think I was much less motivated to write. I'd stay up late and get up late, not good for my body or my mind.

What is the solution? I would truly love to work two or three days a week and have the rest of the time to focus on my writing. Unfortunately, such a solution doesn't appear doable in the near future.

In the past few months, I think God has been teaching me patience - with my writing, with my job, and with my marriage. I'm trying to be patient, but it's really hard sometimes. I feel a bit in limbo and it's difficult to live like that. But on the other hand, if I just realize that He is in control, it makes it easier to deal with.

I'm sure I'll moan and groan about this in a few months or so. It seems to be a cycle with me.

Those of you who want writing to be your full-time career, i.e. you're publishing your books and making somewhat of a living doing it, do you ever find yourself impatient to begin the journey?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Back and Relaxed

Had a great weekend. Saw lots of family, went to the wedding and had a blast, and headed up to Fort Robinson on Sunday and did lots of fun activities with the kids. I always feel more focused after I visit home and family - and I'd still like to take a week off and go home - just by myself. Doubt I'll get to do that anytime soon, but it's nice to dream.

I did do some work on my novel - my grandmother very obligingly answered tons of my questions about the 1940s. I took a lot of photos and video of Fort Robinson and should be able to incorporate it all into my novel.

I also read quite a bit of Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer. He discussed the use of the word "had" and as soon as I finished reading it, I went through my first chapter and circled all the times I used "had." It wasn't pretty! But it reads so much better now that I made the changes.

We have our chapter meeting tonight - I still have to get "organized" for it! I think I need a vacation day to recover from my vacation!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

And They're Off...


No particular reason for a picture of Ioan Gruffuld (he of Horatio Hornblower and The Fantastic Four fame). It's a "just because" day. :-)

Tried to finish my revisions on chapter two last night, but didn't quite make it in between packing and doing laundry. I really wish all the German I learned in grad school would come back to me since I'm dealing with a lot of German soldiers in the WIP. Hubby tried talking to me in German last night (he is fluent after living there for 8 years with the army), but I lost the little that I used to know.

We'll be heading off for a mini vacation after work today. It's a long drive across the state - and it's a straight line. I'm not kidding, either! We travel well over 350 miles before we ever turn. Unfortunately, there's not much to look at on the drive, which is why I'm taking along a book to read and a hard copy of my novel for editing purposes. Of course, hubby and I usually end up talking a lot, too. The kids will be entertained with the DVD player. :-)

I'll be back on Tuesday - hope you all have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Who Would Have Thought?

Like many other teenagers, I always wanted to get out of my hometown. It was small (1,600 people), there was nothing to do (except cruise main over and over), and everyone was into everyone else's business.

Now that I'm living in a slightly bigger place (260,000), there's much more to do, you enjoy a certain amount of anonymity, and there's a RWA chapter. :-)

But for my next book, I'm going back to what I know best - my hometown. This is a picture of our courthouse. It's not anything really special, but let me tell you - when they wanted to tear it down and build a brand new one, residents were up in arms to save it. And they did.

I never thought I'd use my hometown as a setting for anything I wrote, but it's going to fit in perfect for my next book, albeit in a different time period - the 1940's. I know the town thrived more during this time and I'm anxious to delve into the old newspapers and pick my parents' brains since they both grew up there.

I'm also using this weekend's trip as a research opportunity. I'll be heading to Fort Robinson to do some on-site research. I'll actually be able to go into the houses where my characters lived during World War II. How awesome is that? I actually worked here during my first summer of college. Again - using it as a setting for a novel, or even for my graduate thesis? Never would have thought. But I am and I did. (I actually wrote my thesis on the German POW camp located at the Fort during WWII).

I guess the whole point of this rather rambling conversation is that you just never know. I always wanted to set my novels in foreign places - Paris, London, Italy - but Nebraska? That was just plain boring. But I'm seeing it in a different light now.

What about you? Do you love your hometown or where you grew up?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad! I won't tell how old you are... *grin*

On Shopping and Shoes

We're headed back home for my mother-in-law's wedding this weekend and last night my daughter and I decided to go shopping. She needed a shirt to match her skirt and I needed a pair of shoes.

One thing I learned about my daughter - she's exactly like I was when I shopped with my mom growing up. My mother would always pick out outfits, I'd wrinkle my nose in distaste, then proceed to pick out something completely opposite of what Mom had liked. My daughter did the exact same thing last night. Part of me had to let go and realize that she is her own person and even if I'd love to see her in one of those adorable summer dresses, it's just not going to happen. I was pleasantly surprised that she picked out a cute skirt a few days ago, but even more surprised when she found a skirt she liked even better last night. In fact, it's more of a girlie skirt than the last one!

Then it was on to the shoes. As she needed something dressy - even though she wanted to wear flip flops to the wedding which I shot down immediately - we went to Payless Shoe Source because let's face it - I'm not going to pay big bucks for a pair of shoes she may only wear once or twice. We went through the same thing again with the shoes as we did the outfit. I'd point one out, she's wrinkle her nose. She'd try one on, say she liked it, then pause and say, "Well, maybe I'll change my mind." And then she did.

At long last, we finally found the right shoe. Then it was my turn.

I wanted a shoe different from those I have in my closet - something bold, yet not too outlandish. Something not black, but maybe bright red.

Well, we went to several different stores. Unfortunately, the ones I liked were either over $100 (and I REFUSE to pay that much for a pair of shoes) or over $60 (again, I refuse to pay over $60 for a pair of shoes!). The cheap shoes I didn't like. My daughter was very patient with me and pointed out the pretty shoes that she liked (do you see a pattern here?). I still couldn't make up my mind.

In the end, I decided to wear a pair of shoes languishing in my closet. I'll save my money for my trip to Atlanta instead. :-)

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Beauty of a Good Book


I had high hopes of getting a TON done on my novel this weekend. I packed my laptop, some research notes, my novel, a good pen, and...well, you guessed it. I didn't even open the laptop, didn't even use the pen, and didn't even look at the novel.

Instead, I read. While the kids were playing in the pool and hubby was at work, I read. And it was wonderful. I haven't done that in ages. I usually think that I don't have time to read that much - I can usually get in a few chapters here and there, but certainly not hours of reading time. Right now I'm reading Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity. I watched the movie first and let me tell you - the book is nothing like the movie. But that's usually the case. It's a great book and I love the intrigue. I'll have to find the rest of the books in the Bourne series now.

I did have a great brainstorm while driving on the interstate. In fact, it was so great that I had to call hubby and tell him to write it down - I didn't have pen or paper handy while driving and I didn't trust myself to remember it! It's a good thing he did write it down - I'd completely forgotten about it until I found the notes he took!

The kids had a great time - my daughter was very proud of all the laps she did around the swimming pool (with her inner tube on, of course). We'll be taking a trip this coming weekend, as well, as hubby's mom is getting married. Should be fun - and I already found a great dress to wear! Now I just need to find a good pair of shoes - and maybe even a hat. It's an outside wedding, after all! I see a shopping trip in the very near future.

But I'm also itching to get back to my manuscript...

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Loot and A New Design

First, the loot (a.k.a. birthday presents).

--Money from Dad

--Clothes from Mom and brother

--The Da Vinci Code from stepson

--A Napoleon Dynamite memo pad from daughter

--A beautiful cross necklace from other stepson

--A dozen beautiful, red roses

--Band of Brothers DVD set

Yes, it was a nice birthday. :-) Thank you all so much for the good wishes. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Now, on to the new design...which is really not much more than a link to send you to my redesigned Web site. It's nothing fancy. I'm working with a very basic template offered by my ISP service. But hey, it's idiot-proof, exactly what I need. I'll graduate to a fancy Web site in the future, but for now, this will do.

Check it out: The Golden Era of Romance

This blog will be getting a face-lift soon. I plan to update it to reflect my new "retro" style and I have a graphic designer working on a new look. Can't wait to see it when it's done. The best part? It's free! We're trading "work" with each other - I helped him edit his children's story, and he's helping me with my new blog design. :-)

Tonight we're taking the kids to a hotel again to swim and relax. I'm looking forward to getting some more editing done 'cuz as we all know, this gal doesn't swim.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

So I'm 31

It's my birthday. Yay.

Did you hear the excitement? No? Neither did I. *grin*

It's a fact of life that birthdays just aren't as exciting when you get older. At least that's been my experience. I woke up this morning and thought, "Oh yeah. It's my birthday. Cool." And that was about as excited as I got.

I don't have any big plans. I decided to keep it simple this year. I'm having lunch with my co-workers, will exercise after work, then go out for supper and have cake later. And really, that's about it.

And I'm ok with that.

In fact, I was a lot more excited for my daughter's birthday in May than I am for mine. :-)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Neverending Story

I'm working on the second draft of my WWII historical novel right now and just finished with chapter one last night. I've definitely noticed a difference in the way I'm writing this novel as compared to my last one. Of course, I had worked on my last novel, Possession, for nearly five years. Yes, you heard me right. Five years. And in those five years, I learned so much on the writing craft that I had to constantly revise it to make it work. And by the time I had revised and revised, I was so deep into it that I simply couldn't put it aside and work on something else because darn it, if I had invested this much time into it, I was going to FINISH it and FINISH IT RIGHT.

Whew. End of ramble.

But now, Possession is done. Finished. And I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be working on something else.

Have you ever had a project that just wouldn't stop? Did you force yourself to finish it or just abandon it altogether?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Dog Days of Summer


It's that time of the year, the time when I grab the grooming comb and start brushing my dog, Charlie. I'm not kidding when I say I could stuff a couple of big pillows with all the fur he's shedding. But that's summer for you.

As we all know, I'm not a summer person. But there are aspects of summer I enjoy. Listening to the locusts humming in the trees at nightfall. The cool breeze after the sun sets. The sound of children shrieking in delight. My daughter's dirty face and knees after a hard day playing. Picnics and popsicles. The excitement of the 4th of July. Fireworks. Sandles. Running in the sprinkler and water fights. Swingsets and baseball.

What's your favorite thing about summer?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weekend Activities

It's my stepson's thirteenth birthday today - and yes, we have definitely entered the teenage zone! We had his party yesterday and even though it was only in the 70's, we had a huge water fight. My mom even got involved in the festivities and she and my husband had their own little water battle going on. I managed to stay out of it. :-)

I did manage to get some editing done on the novel, but I also relaxed on the front porch quite a bit.

My birthday is coming up on Thursday and hubby said he wants to make it very special. I'm wondering what to do...I obviously can't have what I really want: lunch in Paris! ;-)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ah....Romance (And Fridays)



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

Tell me. Do you go through cycles with your significant other? Are there times when you're madly, deeply, completely in love and other times, well, you love him/her, but you're definitely not in love with him/her?

Last week, I fell back in love with my husband. I hadn't felt that way in a long time. What with our marriage dilemma and all...well, let's just say it felt good.

We write romance. And there's a certain bit of fantasy to it. After all, we're not in love with our significant other all the time. And if you are, then please, tell us your secret! Generally speaking, though, romances end before the hard part really starts. The happily ever after is there - but lots of novels don't tell us exactly how things go after our hero and heroine make the commitment to each other.
But that's ok. To me, reality is hard enough to deal with. I want to read about a couple who has worked through their problems and solved them. I want to read of a couple that is in such perfect harmony with each other that they see stars in each other's eyes. Then for a few minutes, I can sigh in contentment, smile, and think, "Yup, love is wonderful."

Isn't writing romances a great job?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"How to Write" Books

Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer just arrived in the mail for me yesterday. At our last chapter meeting, a gal gave a presentation on Swain's "scene and sequel." I wanted to delve into the concept more and apply it to my current manuscript because let's face it - I want to sell.

What writing book have you found the most helpful?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Power of Fantasy


Let me tell you about my dreams last night...

For some reason, I was at a Hollywood bar. And sitting to my left was the delectable Christian Bale.

And as generally occurs in the land of fantasy, I wasn't married and neither was he. (And of course, I was skinny.)

I knew I had to be the type of gal that wouldn't fall all over him if I was to get his attention. So I did what I do best - I listened. I listened to him talk about Hollywood, about the angst he was going through, etc., etc. And at one point, he came over to me, put his arm around me, and said, "What are you doing Tuesday night?"

"Nothing," I replied.

"Have dinner with me."

"Okay."

The rest of the dream got a little weird as it wasn't me who was having dinner with him, but someone else. But that's ok - the important part is that Christian Bale asked me on a date.

I remember waking up (or maybe I was still in dreamland) and thinking, "Wait a minute. Christian Bale is married! He has kids! But oh...maybe I can dream about Matthew...he's free now!" (Yes - he and Penelope Cruz are no longer a couple. Ladies, we can dream again!)

And I promptly did just that.

I was Matthew McConaughey's personal assistant. Have you seen the movie Sahara? Well, Matthew was wearing that white suit with his shirt open to reveal that very sexy chest of his and his hair was long. I was the one who had to keep the foolish, drooling girls away from him (and believe me, there were plenty). And he loved me for it. But it was a tough job - after all, being in love with your employer isn't easy!

When I woke up this morning to the harsh light of reality *grin*, I smiled. There is something about indulging in our fantasies that just leaves you with a good feeling during the day. The chances of me even meeting Christian Bale or Matthew are slim to absolute none. And that's ok. They're fantasy men - and that's where they belong. I'm sure in reality, I'd probably be a bit disappointed. (Ok, maybe not.)

That's the power of fiction - and romance novels, in particular. We can indulge in these fantasies for awhile and really, that's ok. Reality can be a bit too harsh sometimes and we need that mental break. Romances fills that need, but also servesas a wonderful reminder of the love and affection that exists in real life.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Busy Weekend

It was a busy, but nice weekend. My stepson is visiting from Kentucky, so we took the kids to the town where hubby works (since he had to work Saturday morning) and spent the night at the hotel so the kids could go swimming. They love to do things like that and it's a nice break for us to get away from home for awhile. (Oh yeah - hubby and I are getting along better now - always a good thing! The jury is still out on whether or not we'll survive this little setback, but for now, we're just working on the whole forgiveness thing).

We were fortunate enough (well, if you're into that thing) to see the Raminator crush three cars on Saturday at a car show. My daughter thought it was awesome. :-)

Sunday we went to the WWII museum. This WWII veteran started collecting WWII memorabilia in 1945 and this museum is jammed with stuff. He has an extensive collection of books, uniforms, weapons, magazines, flags, medals, and just about everything else you can think of. Unfortunately, it's definitely a mom and pop museum (this elderly couple has been doing it for quite a long time) and it's in need of a good reorganization. I don't think he has his extensive library catalogued, which would be a job in itself. I'm thinking of offering to volunteer maybe once or twice a month to help him get things in a better semblance of order.

On the writing front, I did manage to get a bit of editing done while I sat around the pool watching the kids (no swimming for this gal!).

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, June 02, 2006

It's Friday

Yup, my favorite day of the week. I'm not sure what my weekend plans will be, but they definitely involve writing.

I'm thinking of heading off to a local World War II museum that I've wanted to visit for quite a long time now. Might give me additional motivation to work on my WWII novel.

Other than that, I plan on relaxing. I like to do that on the weekends. I'm on the go too much during the week.

But what I'd really like to do is go home for about a week. Ah, yes. Sitting on my Dad's front porch, looking out over the pasture, watching the cows graze, basking in the cool air of a western Nebraska summer night...that sounds pretty good about now. Unfortunately, I've got to save my vacation hours for Atlanta. And Atlanta can't come soon enough! I'm so excited to go and meet everyone and just enjoy the entire experience.

If you could go anywhere on vacation right now, where would it be?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Dentist Appointment from Hell

I'm getting used to going to the dentist. I'm trying to get my teeth all fixed before I have any more major problems (like root canals) to deal with. I don't even get nervous anymore while I sit in the waiting room.

That may change now.

I had to have one tooth done yesterday. The cavity turned out to be pretty deep, so it was a good thing that I had it fixed. But after the first two shots of novacaine failed to produce the desired numbing effect, they had to dig a little deeper with the needle. I don't know if they hit a nerve that automatically triggered the desire to promptly close my eyes and fall asleep or what, but by the time they started drilling, I was fighting to keep my eyes open.

And the drilling just didn't stop! When he was finally finished, the whole right side of my face was numb - including my ear! I was shaky and dizzy when I stood up and to tell you the truth, I really just wanted to curl up in a corner and take a nap.

The drive home was, let's just say, interesting. I literally fought to keep my eyes open on the way home. Returning to work was out of the question. When I got home, I fell on my bed, closed my eye - make that my left eye - and tried to go to sleep. My right eye refused to close, so I had to actually take my fingers and pull the eyelid down! I fell asleep and woke up an hour and a half later, ate some lunch, then went back to sleep and slept until 4:30 p.m.

I don't think I've ever had such a weird reaction to novacaine before. And unfortunately, I've got another dentist appointment the first week of July. Maybe I will have forgotten this experience by then.

But I doubt it.