Friday, April 30, 2010

Writing and the Weather


Last night we were treated to a spectacular display of nature. A powerful thunderstorm rolled into town and for nearly three hours, we watched the flashes of lightning, listened to the powerful thunderclaps (some so big that they shook the house), and savored the sweet smell of falling rain. It was awesome and for me, the perfect atmosphere in which to write. I managed to churn out over 1,000 words.

I'm one of those people who gets more creative the grayer it is outside. I know, I know, it doesn't make any sense, but that's just how God made me, I guess. I love cool, rainy days with lots of clouds. I turn on my music, plug in my laptop, snuggle underneath a blanket, and get to work. I'm much more productive on those types of days.

On the other hand, bright, hot, sunny days see a drop in my productivity. I've blogged about my intense dislike of heat many, many, many times. And unfortunately, we are predicted to have above normal temperatures this summer. This does not make me happy. However, I shall survive thanks to air conditioning, and hopefully, I can train myself to be more productive despite the heat.

Are you more productive according to the weather outside?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Living Wax Museum

Now here is an ingenious way to teach kids about major historical figures.

My daughter's class put on a living wax museum last night. The gymnasium was full of fourth graders dressed in different costumes - from Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein to Pocohontas and Anne Frank. They were to stay "frozen" until someone dropped a few coins into a bucket at their feet. This would then bring them to "life" and they would recite a monologue that they prepared.

My daughter decided to be Queen Victoria.

About a month ago, we checked out a book from the library and she started researching. She'd come home and tell me interesting things about Victoria. One day she said, "Mom, did you know Victoria had nine children?" I suddenly looked at Queen Victoria with a whole new respect. I also felt a deep sorrow for the young monarch when my daughter and I realized that she'd only had 20 years of marriage with the love
of her life before he was struck down by typhoid fever.

We decided to watch the recentl
y made movie, The Young Victoria with Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend for additional research. My daughter absolutely loved it, and I'm sure it will become a part of our movie collection in the not to distant future.

The one thing my daughter wasn't crazy about was wearing a dress. She is a tomboy down to her toes. She loves to explore nature and get her hands dirty digging in the dirt or unearthing rocks. She refuses to wear dresses and skirts are a very, very big maybe. So I knew this might be a challenge.

Yet I assured her she would do just fine, that she only had to wear it for 45 minutes. She came into my bedroom Sunday night moaning about having to "wear a dress." I had to tell her that sometimes in life, we have to do things we don't want to. :-)

My mom had a great idea to use an old '80s prom dress as her costume, a
nd I fixed her hair in a cute up-do. I added a fancy Victorian flowered necklace and my daughter was transformed to a young British monarch.
She did great, and so did the other kids. It was fun to see how they put their own personalities into their monologues. Not only did they learn something about an important historical figure, but they also had a chance to practice speaking in public. A win-win situation in my book.
But as I watched my daughter, I felt not only pride, but a bit of sadness, as well. Seeing her in that dress, with her hair all done, and talking so confidently, I realized once more that she's growing into a beautiful young lady. And the next time I see her in that fancy of a dress, it will probably be her prom dress - or maybe not, if the tomboy stuff keeps up!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Dream Job

I've gone through several phases in my search for the dream job. I thought perhaps a career in the museum world would fit me, and even went to job shadow at my local museum. Now I have no interest in it.

I've thought about working for a university press and editing historical manuscripts or working at Colonial Williamsburg as a costumed interpretor. But neither one really gets my juices flowing largely because 1) I'd be stuck behind a computer 8-5 for that editing job and 2) I'm not the greatest around strangers.

So what's my ideal job?

The same it's been for the last 20 years (and no, I'm not kidding): being a published novelist.

What about you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Slacker!

I'm really falling down on the job when it comes to blogging. Guess I just haven't had that much to say. (Ha! That's a laugh...)

So here's what I've been up to:

  • Revised my query letter for the last novel and started sending it out to agents
  • Researched obscure facts for my current work-in-progress
  • Started going to the gym again
  • Worked on freelance writing
  • Actually dusted my living room last night
  • Did laundry (which is still sitting in the laundry basket, even though it's clean)
  • Brushed my cat and realized I could stuff a pillow with all the fur I got out
  • Played thumb wars with my daughter
  • Contemplated taking a nap at least 5 times every evening
  • Bought groceries

Gee. What an exciting list. No wonder I've had nothing to say!

What have you been up to? Anything more exciting than dusting your living room?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Going Home

My grandfather on the family farm, circa 1940s


There's something about going home that makes me feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Despite the six hour drive, when I see the landscape change, feel the hugs of my family, listen to their conversation, and absorb the love and laughter around me, I feel like the most blessed person on Earth.

Life moves slower in western Nebraska. Once I get off the interstate and have to slow down to 65, everything else seems to slow down, too. You pass tractors on the road, see acres and acres of cows grazing in the pastures, and find lots of cowboys and farmers around. This part of the state isn't as economically "rich" as the eastern portion of the state. With the difference in the land, farming is harder here. You have to irrigate your crops and can't count on the rain to see you through the growing season. Tough summers with hail storms, drought, and wind and tough winters with snow, ice, and blizzards make it difficult to keep a positive attitude about farming. My family has had their share of storms - weather-related and financially-related - when it comes to farming, but it's only made us tougher.

You see that toughness in the residents, too. Their faces reveal it in the lines and cracks around their eyes. But there is joy, too. Joy in a life spent working hard and reaping the rewards and knowing that you are building a firm foundation in your children and generations to come.

I come from that tough stock. That strength has sustained me through many of life's storms. And when I go back home, I am reminded of where I got that strength - from my family. I carry the reminder with me on the long, six-hour drive back, and into the city and its busy, crazy traffic and people living at a pace far removed from the one I just left behind. It gives me peace to know that I have a mountain of support and love standing solidly behind me, forming an unbreakable circle.

It is then that I know...I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Longing for the Connection


Confession: I used to belong to RWA (Romance Writers of America). I also belonged to our local RWA chapter where I served as treasurer, vice president, and president. About three years ago, I decided that I no longer liked dealing with bylaws and business meetings and talk of fund-raising. I just wanted to write. Unfortunately, my focus became more and more on the business side of the group than the writing itself. This led me to leave the group.

I also moved away from writing romance. There's a myriad of reasons why, but the main reason is that I became disillusioned with the genre itself. While I am a romantic at heart and my novels will always have some sort of love story involved, it's not the major focus.

What I enjoyed the most about my writing group, however, was the members. I am still friends with many of them to this day. Unfortunately, we hardly ever get together and discuss writing.

Blogging, Facebook, and message boards are great for connecting with writers around the world. But there's something to be said for meeting with a group of writers face-to-face. You gather energy and inspiration and creativity from each other, something I've found incredibly hard to do online.

So I'm toying with the possibility of trying to form another writer's group - but this time, the focus will be solely on writing. No bylaws, no fund-raising, no business discussions or trying to figure out Robert's Rules of Order - just writing itself.

I need that connection with other writers - in person.

Do you belong to a local writer's group
? Why or why not?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Back to the Gym I Go!


Tomorrow, it will be two weeks since my surgery. In that two weeks, I went from barely being able to move, to slowly walking, to finally, finally, feeling like myself again. I haven't felt like myself in a month!

I took two short walks over the weekend because we had such beautiful weather, but I've been careful not to push myself until I heard from my doctor that exercise was, indeed, officially back on the schedule.

Today, I went in for my post-op check-up and things are good. Doc gave me the "all-clear" to begin exercising again, and I can't wait to hit the gym. I plan to take things slow, though.

And with a return to my normal schedule also comes a return to my writing. I got a bit of writing done over the weekend and even looked at one of my other works-in-progress that I abandoned a few months ago. I saw it with new eyes. It has definite potential.

It appears that nature has decided to join me in getting back on schedule. We have flowers blooming everywhere, trees budding, and warm temperatures perfect for long walks.

Have you ever been knocked off your schedule for awhile? How did you get back to it?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Do I Need to Learn Meditation?

I swore the other day to leave the political blogs and other negative "hot button" issues out of my life for the time being. But an innocent search got me all fired up again on a certain issue. Naturally, I had to respond (because I can't stand injustice) and that pretty much shot the whole "calmness" of the morning.

Now that it's afternoon, I'm feeling normal again and wondering, for the thousandth time, if I have adult ADD. My brain tends to flit around on a dozen things at any given moment. Actually focusing for more than 15-20 minutes on something is nearly impossible for me. This is especially bothersome at night when I'm trying to go to sleep and have ten thousand thoughts running through my brain.

I am thinking I need to learn how to meditate and how to focus. I'd like an entire week of focusing on my writing. Yet something always drags me away from it and I have little resistance to the siren call.

Finding actual quiet time, meditating on something, whether it be on something I read in my Bible or on something that I wrote, is hard for me. I wish it wasn't.

Am I merely a product of this current social climate of "so many things to look at, so little time to look at them"? With Twitter (which I have staved off joining so far), Facebook, blogging, and a gazillion websites calling my name, the Internet is a big time waster for me. But it's not just the 'Net that distracts me. I'll get caught up in various activities offline that take away my focus. Though I have managed to eliminate t.v. (except for the past few weeks!), I still have a hard time just sitting and "being."

Have any of you tried meditation? Does it work for you? I just want my darn brain to be still for awhile!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Back At It


Last night I opened my WIP on my laptop for the first time in well over a week. What with the surgery and the recovery time, I hadn't exactly the energy to tackle it.

I really didn't have the energy last night, either, but I made myself do it largely because I was feeling depressed. I attribute that to being house-bound for almost a week, not being able to move very fast, sleepless nights, and just tired of being sick.

I was a bit rusty, but once I got going, I managed to get a few words down. I'm hopeful I can write more tonight, but we'll see. I'm finally back to work after being gone for a week and it might take all the energy I have just to get through the day. And then, who knows? My characters may start whispering in my ear this afternoon...




One Day at a Time

I've always tried to live with this mentality: One day at a time. Unfortunately, when I implement it, I fail spectacularly. But for this...