Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Promise of a Long Weekend

It's only Thursday, true, but tomorrow is going to be a short work day - only until 2 p.m. Hooray! Now I have to decide if I want to go work out with that extra time I have or just go home and relax. Hmm...must think on that.

The first college football game of the year for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (my alumni!) is this weekend. I can't wait. If you live in Nebraska, this is pretty much a holy day. We love our football. I'm not a fanatic, by any means, but if you're ever in Lincoln, Nebraska, on game day, you'll see what I mean. It's a sea of red - flags waving, people walking to the stadium, people camped out in parking lots having tailgate parties - I love the energy of it all.

Other than writing, reading, and relaxing, there's not much on the agenda. I suppose we could head out to the state fair again, but that starts to get expensive, especially when payday isn't until next week.

The best part about a long weekend is just knowing that you have a long weekend. Time to relax and rejuvenate! I don't plan on hitting a single Labor Day sale, either. I'm a working woman - this is my holiday to relax! ;-)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Isn't It Pretty?


Since hubby is now working at a Dodge dealership, he's telling me all sorts of cool stuff about the new cars coming in. This is the 2006 Dodge Challenger. Wow, would I love to have that in my garage.

Cars have always been a thing in our family. My dad and older brother each have a '66 Chevelle SS and my little brother has a '66 Chevelle Malibu. We used to go to the drag races in a little place in Colorado on Sundays when I was in high school. I rode with my brother one time when he was racing down the strip and I'll never forget that feeling. Even though I had a helmet and a seat belt on, there was still that element of danger that sent a thrill through my every nerve.

My husband is a car guy, through and through. He loves to tinker around with them and spend lots of time in his garage. And even though he's not a certified mechanic, he tries and tries to fix something until he gets it right. He says you learn by doing and I've seen him learn a lot over the years that we've been married. He's saved us money on mechanic's fees again and again.

With me, cars are pretty much a tool to get me to and from a place. I want it to be reliable, to look decent, and that's about it. I don't need anything fancy. I've always wanted a Dodge Viper, but I'll save that for the lottery winnings. :-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Change of Pace

The weather has decided to give me a taste of autumn and I'm loving it. Yesterday and today we had nice, cool temps and rain showers on and off. Of course, the only thing I wanted to do was go home and write, but the day job calls.

I've really been enjoying Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write. There's something about her pace that is so easy-going and refreshing to read. I feel energized and inspired after I read only a few of her paragraphs. And for some reason, I really, really, would like to have that same kind of easy-going pace in my own life.

I'm not as busy as some parents. My daughter has not taken an interest in sports. She did say she might like to take dance, so I'm taking that into consideration. At this point, I'm not running all over the place taking her from one practice to the next. But those days are coming. In the meantime, I'm trying to make the best use of my time.

But the full-time job really makes it difficult to carve out enough hours in the day to do what you want. There's essentially six hours from the end of the work day until bedtime and there's a lot to be crammed into those six hours. Working out, picking up my daughter from daycare, fixing supper, tidying the house, reading a book, spending some quality time with her, writing...how do we fit it all in?

I've pretty much cut television from my schedule. On the weekends, I'll indulge in a movie or two, but more than that and I feel guilty. Tonight I did watch History Detectives, but it was while I was folding laundry. I couldn't justify sitting on the couch and just mindlessly watching it - I had to be working.

This is a far cry from where I used to be. I remember when we had cable and I didn't have a full-time job - I'd watch t.v. for hours at a time. Just think of all that time wasted! I didn't even like the majority of the stuff I watched - I watched it because it was there and I wasn't motivated enough to do anything else.

I think as Americans, it's been drummed into our heads that we have to work, work, WORK. But it's a double-edged sword. Yes, we are one of the most progressive nations on earth. But look at how we rush around. We go from school to practice to supper to Boy Scouts to home and to bed - or any variation thereof. Our vacations are limited to two weeks a year - a situation which most Europeans find incredulous.

I long for an easy-going pace in my life. But how to achieve it, short of winning the lottery? And to be honest, I can only sit around and relax for so long before I really start to get antsy and feel the need to do something.

Maybe I'm just really weird. I don't get involved with television shows like I used to and I couldn't even begin to tell you who got kicked off Survivor or what the newest sitcom is. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. But funny - I really don't miss it at all.

Do you long for a slower pace in your life? If so, how would you go about achieving it?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Odds and Ends


I definitely didn't do much this weekend and that was my plan. In fact, most of my time was spent on the couch reading a good book. I also watched a few movies and got about a page written, but other than that, nada. I even took a nap yesterday. Boy, did I ever need a weekend like that.

Today was the first day of school - my daughter was a trooper! No tears or anything. She was a big girl. Of course, it probably helped that her daddy was there, too.

Other than that, not much to report. Did you have a more exciting weekend than I did? ;-)

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's Friday!

Ah.....it's Friday! And I woke up to a nice, cool morning. If we can keep these temps throughout the weekend, I will be a very happy camper.

Yesterday my allergies started acting up and I thought I'd check out the pollen index. Turns out my city was one of the top cities in the nation for pollen. No wonder I was sneezing! I'm still fighting it today, but I refuse to take an antihistimene because I don't want to walk around like a zombie.

I did get some writing done last night and hope to get lots more done over the weekend.

Monday is my daughter's first day of school. We went to her open house last night and boy, what a madhouse. Parents and kids everywhere. At times, you couldn't even move because there was so many people around. But my daughter has everything figured out - and she said she's going to put the name of her teacher in her head so she doesn't forget. *grin* I think she's ready! But am I? No more kindergarten - we're on to big first grade now! I'll probably cry on Monday, but that's ok - I'm allowed. :-)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Love Affair with Classic Movies


Since I write books set during World War II, it's only natural that I also love classic Hollywood films. :-)

Last night I relaxed and watched State Fair and fell in love with classic movies all over again. I've been too busy working, dealing with family stuff, doing a BIAW, etc., to indulge in a good classic movie. But you can't get much better than State Fair. This musical stars Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crain. Watch it if you get a chance.

Dana Andrews is one of my all time favorite actors. He was suave, good-looking, and made your heart melt whenever he came on screen. I first spotted him in Laura with Gene Tierney and that is still my favorite role of his. Directed by Otto Preminger, Laura is a film noir movie - and is definitely in a class by itself. Vincent Price is also in it, before his horror movie days. Highly recommend this one, too.

But while puttering around my house the other day, I started to wonder. When did I start loving classic movies and why?

While growing up, we only got three channels - ABC, CBS, and PBS. Every Saturday night, PBS had Silver Screen Classics. And that's when I started watching classic movies. I absolutely adored them - and I wasn't even in junior high yet. I think I loved them for their simple elegance. And that's still why I love them today. Oh sure, lots of them are a bit corny and not very realistic, but that's part of their charm. I can name plenty of movies like that today!

My DVD collection is slowly growing. I'm still on the look out for They Got Me Covered with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. I taped it off of television many, many years ago (yup, from PBS!) and my tape isn't in the best of shape anymore. Unfortunately, the DVD is hard to find - and it's expensive.

Any classic movies you love?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Take a Moment...



Sometimes we have to reevaluate why we write. We can get completely caught up in craft discussions, marketing strategies, contests, and promotion. But there comes a time where we must distance ourselves from all those things and think about the writing.

When is the last time you asked yourself, "Why do I write?"

Are you missing that spark? Has your writing become a daily job - but a job that you really don't enjoy all that much? Have you lost that childish enthusiasm for your manuscript?

I think I have. I've been so focused on the "big picture" - i.e. getting published, branding myself, trying to prepare for my career - that I have lost sight of the simple pleasure of stringing words together.

There is a time and a place for all of the things I mentioned above. In fact, all those subjects are imperative to being a writer. We must think about marketing and publicity and craft.

But if you need to slow down for a minute and reimmerse yourself in the whole reason why you write, then grab a copy of Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write. I've already read this once and I loaned it to someone who unfortunately, did not return it. Today, I bought another copy because I had the urge to read it again. Some part of my soul is begging to go back to that quiet place where I think about the wonders of writing and of why I love it so much.

If You Want to Write will help you to slow down and take a moment to remember why I first put pen to paper. Because in the end, it's all about the words.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sometimes, You Gotta Take a Break

I didn't write a thing on Saturday. Instead, I slept in late (ooh, how I LOVE to sleep in on Saturday mornings!) and took my time getting up. Stayed in bed for awhile and read a new book and then got ready to go to the mall for the back to school shopping experience. And I found me another pair of Levis - woo hoo!

My daughter had a blast - we found her plenty of clothes and even found her a shirt with a horse on it - she's been wanting one. But we have yet to find the tiger shirt. My daughter loves tigers. In fact, she told me the other day that she doesn't want to be a teacher anymore when she grows up - she wants to be a zoo helper. She loves animals so much that I wouldn't be surprised if that is the path she takes.

Yesterday we went to church, ran to the home improvement store, and then came back. I had a relaxing afternoon. Read my book, played with the dogs, and even got quite a bit of writing done. The weekend went entirely too fast, as usual, but at least I wasn't so busy that I feel wiped out today. If I can have a day to relax and lounge around during the weekend, Mondays aren't so bad for me.

School starts a week from today. I don't think my daughter is ready. She'll be a big first grader this year. I think she'll be just fine, but there must be something a little nerve wracking about going from kindergarten to first grade.

I'm just glad that autumn is almost here! I can't wait for cooler temps.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday

Not much more is needed for a title. It's been a really long week. I think it's because work has been incredibly slow and that always creates a restlessness in me.

Yesterday wasn't the best writing day, either. I wanted to work on it last night, but I accidentally emailed myself the wrong version of my story. Ah well. I needed to go to bed early last night anyway.

This weekend we're going school shopping for my daughter. I'm actually pretty excited. I also plan on buying myself another pair of Levis. ;-)

Other than that, I don't plan on doing anything too big. I'll probably cozy up on our new couch with my laptop and keep going on the BIAW.

Any big weekend plans for you?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Just Write Through It

While chatting with Rene yesterday, I told her that my writing that afternoon was a struggle. The words just weren't flowing. Part of me wanted to quit. The other part refused.

I'm glad I listened to that other part. I determined to just "write through it" and it wasn't long before my fingers started flying.

At the end, I had over 2,000 words. That felt great. But you know what I love even more? Printing off a hard copy of those words and adding it to the rest of the manuscript. It's amazing to see the pages pile up. I love to hold the weight of it in my hand and say, I did this.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Relaxing Evenings?

It's been rather strange the past two days. Since work has been uber slow, I've been able to get the writing done on my novel during the day. That leaves my evenings free. And to tell you the truth, I don't quite know what to do with myself.

Monday night I sort of wandered around hubby's house, trying to think of something to do. Naturally I gravitated toward the kitchen, but thankfully I didn't indulge in any harmful junk food. Last night we went to go pick up our couch and when we got back, I sat down and read through one of my research books. But in reading the book, I came up with an idea for one of my future characters and had to search for pen and paper to write it down. Then I figured, well, heck, as long as I have the paper and pen, why not do some brainstorming for future scenes on the WIP? So I did.

Hubby and I did watch a movie last night - Fun with Dick and Jane - hilarious movie. But I felt a strange sort of restlessness. Is this the writer mentality? Is it possible to not think about writing? Or is it always there, lurking in your subconscious?

I think my whole restlessness is probably just a glitch in my routine. I usually write at night. Now that I've been doing it during the day, I've had the nights free. And it's just weird.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Finished!

I've come to realize that while it's exciting to think about home improvement projects, the reality is rather harsh. Your house is a mess for entirely too long and by the time you finish with the project, you're so sick of dealing with everything that it takes awhile to really enjoy it.

Hubby finished painting the living room the other night and put all the furniture back. It looks nice. Even though he still has some touch ups to do, that won't take long. The new dining room set looks wonderful and we'll get the new couch tonight. Can't wait. The sad thing is, though, that after all this work, we won't get to enjoy it for long since we're selling the place. Ah well. On to bigger and better things, right? We still have to paint the kitchen, the bathroom, and our bedroom, but none of these should be too hard since we're going with plain ol' white.

BIAW is going well. I hit the 3000 word mark yesterday and it felt great to write that much. I hope I can equal that today. I introduced a new character who is going to be a perfect foil for my heroine and is great fun to write. That's what I love about this job. :-)

Monday, August 14, 2006

In the Mood

It was a good weekend. Activities included shopping for a new couch and dining room set (and we found both!), visiting with my dad and his girlfriend, visiting the natural history museum, laundry, and just relaxing. I wish I could have done a little bit more of the last item, but unfortunately, the weekend is only two days long. I still think we should ban Mondays as part of the work week.

I'm really excited to get started on the BIAW - to turn off that internal editor and just write! If I could only have this attitude every time I sat down to write, who knows where I'd be? ;-) I'm at a great point in my book, too, and I can't wait to tackle the upcoming scenes. I just need to remember to write and not think too much.

If you'd like to participate in BIAW, head on over to Villa in Tuscany and sign up. You'll be glad you did! But if you can't make it this time, don't worry - we'll have another one in September.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Ramblings

My husband's new job requires that he wear dress pants, dress shirt, ties, and dress shoes. This is a far cry from the work boots, jeans, and uniform shirt that he had to wear before. It's taking some getting used to! But I am not complaining one bit. He looks good. Really good. We met for lunch yesterday, despite the fact that our respective jobs are on opposite ends of town. But when I walked into the resteraunt and saw him sitting there, I thought, "Wow."

Okay, enough of me bragging on my hubby. :-)

Just a tiny bit of writing done yesterday. I hope to get more done today, but I don't hold a lot of hope for the weekend. My dad's coming to visit and hubby has this weekend off, so I'll be busy, I'm sure.

But that's ok because we have the BIAW next week - and I can't wait. I'm ready! Don't forget to sign up over at Villa if you haven't already.

So what about you? Any exciting plans for the weekend?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Painting and Writing

Luckily for me, work has been s-l-o-w lately, affording me the opportunity to sneak in a few pages. That's a good thing because I certainly didn't have time to write last night.

Hubby got a different color of paint last night and it's the perfect shade. I panicked momentarily when he first started painting, but after it dried, I knew it would be just fine. I worked on the opposite side of the living room with the other color - a nice, mellow gold - and finished one wall. We still have one side of the living room to do, but since we don't have to put primer on it, it should go just fine. I'm hopeful we can finish it tonight. I really want to get the house back in order.

I reached an exciting point in my manuscript yesterday and didn't want to stop writing. But that should make it much easier to get going on it today.

Win an Alpha Smart!

For those of you who haven't visited Writer Unboxed, (an awesome writing Web site) get thee there now! They're holding a fabulous contest where you can win an Alpha Smart!

Don't Forget BIAW!

There's plenty of time to sign up for BIAW - Book In A Week - over at Villa in Tuscany. We'd love for you to join us!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

That Moment

Last night, I sat down to write. Hubby had the kids. I had my apartment completely to myself. It was quiet. No television. No "Mom, can I have this?" or "Mom, c'mere!" to deal with. Just me, myself, and I - and the computer.

I didn't know what I was going to write next in my novel. I have it plotted out, but not every individual scene. I leave room for surprises. And last night, I got one.

I started writing this scene and about half-way through, I thought, Where am I going with this? Why am I writing this?

I wasn't sure, but I kept on going. And while I was getting ready for bed, it hit me. There was a very good reason why I was writing this scene. In fact, it was an excellent reason. It fit perfectly with something that happened earlier in the story, but I just didn't know it at the time I started to write.

Don't you love moments like that?

BIAW News...

If you'd like to participate in next week's BIAW (Book In A Week), then head on over to Villa in Tuscany and leave a comment to sign up.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Busy Weekend and BIAW!!!

We went down to a family reunion on Friday evening to "the cabin" as it is known in our family. I've never been there before, but it was a cute little place. I hadn't seen some of my cousins for years, so it was good to visit with them. I really don't know how my one cousin does it - he has FIVE little girls - the oldest lives with her mom, but he and his wife have four together. And they are all under the age of ten. Talk about chaos! I don't think my daughter knew what to think when we arrived and they were all running around the house.

We went down to the lake on Saturday and my daughter got to play in the water and scoop sand into a bucket. But I, being the great water person that I am, decided to stay in the shade. We didn't stay too long since my mom wasn't feeling well, so we headed back home where I continued reading a fabulous book called Black Out by a new romantic suspense author I found, Annie Solomon. (And yes, I stayed up waaaay too late last night to finish it! But it was well worth it!)

On Sunday, hubby and I went to the mall to buy clothes for his new job - yes, he has a new job in the same town that we live! No more driving 88 miles each way every day! Woo hoo!! But this new job calls for a completely new wardrobe - dress pants, shirts, ties, shoes. So we spent a good chunk of change yesterday, but we prefer to see it as an investment. :-)

Also went and took the kids to see the movie Cars. What an adorable movie. I really think Disney did a good job with this one. I want it on DVD. :-)

No writing done this weekend, but that's ok - I'm going to try and hit it tonight, if possible, after I hit the gym. I did take a power walk last night and took a few other walks during last week, but I don't feel like I get a good work-out unless I go to Curves. And I was really BAD this weekend with my eating. Hate it when I do that. But what I am supposed to do when there are yummy, gooey, chewy homemade chocolate chip cookies that my aunt made right there for me to grab? Eat them, of course! (In my defense, I only had ONE. But I did also snatch a lemon bar and another dessert...)

BIAW Is Coming Next Week!

Mark your calendars! Rene and I will be hosting a BIAW over at our writing blog - Villa in Tuscany, starting Monday, August 14. If you feel up to it - and you know you do! - then pop on over and join us! We'll also be doing one in September, so if you can't make this one, we'll see you next time.

Throughout the week, I will try and post some different ways to do a BIAW if you've never done one before. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for a successful BIAW, please share! I'll post those comments (anonymously, if you'd like - just let me know) over at Villa.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This Thing Called Love: Why I Write Romance

In the past few weeks, I've lived enough reality. I have no desire to dive into a novel where the main character's misery is worse than my own and his or her tragic death at the end of the book makes me sob uncontrollably. No thanks.

I don't write romance to delve into the deep world of human misery or tragedy or any other harsh reality. I write romance because I want to ESCAPE reality for awhile. I want to delve into a world where the man says he loves the woman, she says she loves him, and they live happily ever after. It seems like a trite formula, but not to me. Happily ever afters give us all hope.

When writers finish writing a romance or readers finish reading one, we all have a warm fuzzy nestled in our hearts. Of course, we're not stupid - yes, we know that life doesn't always end happily ever after. But that is the entire point. We want to read a story where it actually DOES end on a good note. We get enough of reality just by living life. What's wrong with wanting to escape reality for awhile?

Nothing, in my opinion. I think we all need that break. Too much reality and we'd all be throwing ourselves over bridges. But escapist fiction, and that's what romance writers create, has always been a popular form of entertainment. Movies cater to that demand all the time. So do romance novels. And mystery novels. And science fiction novels. The list goes on...

Next time someone sneers at your choice of writing material, or lifts their nose to a point well above your head, just politely smile and vow to put him or her in your next novel - as the villain. :-)

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Perfect Jeans

I used to wear Levis in high school. In fact, I refused to wear anything else. When I would buy a pair, it would take quite the shopping experience to find the perfect shade and the perfect fit. I loved, loved, loved my Levis.

When I put on weight from my pregnancy and from the other health problems, I never bought jeans from a department store. They were always Wal-Mart specials. ;-)

Last weekend I went shopping and I was determined to find me a good pair of jeans. Why, you ask? Because when I went to the doc on Friday, she told me I had lost 32 pounds.

32 pounds!!!

While I'm not to my goal weight yet, that in itself is a major accomplishment for me. Losing ten pounds always seemed so far away and impossible. But 32? WOW!

And what did I find at the mall? The perfect pair of Levis in a much smaller size. And they fit! I can't begin to tell you how absolutely thrilled I was when I looked in the mirror. I always try and remind myself that the reason I'm losing the weight is for my health - but I gotta tell ya, when I looked in the mirror and saw the results of my weight loss journey, I felt great.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Plethora of Random Musings


Random Musing #1: You really can write if you're bone-weary and suffering from a headache, a stuffed up nose, and plugged ears. (Half-way point in the WIP surpassed tonight!)

Random Musing #2: Ibuprofen, hot rasberry tea, and a warm shower can do wonders for said ailments described above.

Random Musing #3: It is entirely possible for the daughter to sleep from 6:30 p.m. until morning, affording you the chance to write while listening to the locusts chirping outside the window, the true sound of summer.

Random Musing #4: There are a LOT of writing blogs out there (like you needed to have that confirmed) and randomly surfing them can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside because you realize that you are not alone in this whole writing business. It can also make you panic because you are not alone in this writing business and there are not enough book contracts to go around!

Random Musing #5: A brand new executive office chair (on sale, of course) can make for an absolutely wonderful writing experience as compared to that squeaky, piece o' crap chair you've used for years.

Random Musing #6: If you are not a crowd person, hate loads of people talking at once, and have a phobia of having your embarassing moment appear on a random blog, can you survive an RWA conference? Dallas 2007 will tell.

Random Musing #7: Thursdays are one day closer to Friday. This in itself is a cause for celebration.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Adventures in Color

I had this bright idea to paint our living room two colors - gold and maroon. We went to the hardware store, tried to match the new carpet with the paint, and then proceeded home. After painting the primer on Sunday, hubby started on the color I thought would go well with the living room Monday night. He called me that night and I could hear the hesitation in his voice.

"Uh, hon, do you want to come over and look at this?"

"Why? What's wrong?"

"Well, it just doesn't look like I thought it would."

Me, uncharacteristically breezy: "Oh, I'm sure it's fine. What does it matter anyway? We're selling the place."

"Okay, if you say so."

I really should have heeded the warning in his voice.

Last night, I walked into the house and gasped in horror. (I'm not kidding. I really did gasp in horror.)

"It looks hot pink!" I wailed.

(Yes, I really did wail, too. This was traumatic, people!)

Hubby: "That's why I wanted you to come and look at it the other day."

I honestly don't know what happened, but that is not the color I had picked out. Thankfully, we only got one wall painted (and just one coat) so we're going to abandon that color and pick out something a little less...bold.

I'm thinking plain ol' white.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Back At It

Back to work today after a week's vacation.

Can you sense the excitement in my voice? Yeah, didn't think so. *grin*

On the plus side, I did manage to get quite a bit of writing done yesterday. It felt great. I've reached the halfway point of my novel and I'm excited to keep going on it.

Can you believe it's August already? Where did 2006 go? Not that I'm complaining that we're moving closer to the autumn months because let's face it - this summer has been an absolute scorcher, in more ways than one. A wildfire in western Nebraska has threatened my college town where I received my undergrad. Absolutely scary. My brother lives two hours away and he says you can smell the smoke when you walk outside. The heat and drought have not helped at all. This area is part of the Nebraska Pine Ridge - absolutely beautiful country. And this fire is just wreaking devastation.

Yeah, I'm ready for cooler temps and some moisture. Anyone else looking forward to autumn?