Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flyby Update

My apologies if I haven't been by your blog lately. This week has been a bit of a whirlwind.

But it's a good whirlwind.

I can now say that my daughter and I are the reigning champions of horseshoes. We've defeated my stepsons in two games of horseshoes now. Will we be able to keep that crown? Guess we'll see...

It's been a lot of fun having the boys here. We sit around and talk, reminisce, play games, watch movies, and hang out. Last night they went to the batting cages with my brother and then we sat on the front step and watched my daughter catch fireflies. That, my friends, is the definition of summer!

I haven't done any writing on the novel since Sunday, but that's perfectly ok. Spending time with the kids is more important right now.

Posting will be sporadic for awhile since the 4th of July weekend is coming up, and it will be filled with lots and lots of family time, a wedding, softball games, fireworks, and, of course, food!

Monday, June 27, 2011

All Grown Up

My two stepsons are home. One is 18, the other is 16. And they're both a lot taller than I remember.

Christmas, 2004
My oldest will be a senior in the fall. He has already received letters from colleges for both baseball and football. The 16-year-old will be a junior and starts in football and basketball. Gah! Where did the time go???

June, 2011 -
Please excuse my hubby's dirty shirt. He was working in the garage when I snapped this photo!
I went and bought groceries Saturday and boy, was my cart full. I don't even want to tell you how much I spent! But teenage boys eat a lot.

It's been lots of fun having them home. They'll be here through the 4th of July, so we're going to enjoy their time with us!

But I must say, I feel pretty short when I'm next to them! ;-)


Friday, June 24, 2011

Girls' Night Out

My mama's in town, so she, my daughter, and I are having a girls' night out!

Plans includes:

Dinner
Lots of laughter
Sharing memories
And maybe some shopping!

What are your plans for Friday night?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When You're Stuck

Writing has been like the proverbial pulling teeth metaphor lately. I sit at my desk and try to compose something brilliant, but alas, nothing but meaningless gibberish spews onto the page.

Last night, however, I decided to try something different. I'm not sure where I read this idea, but it suggested that if the writing isn't going well, doing some other creative task might just do the trick to get you "unstuck."

In essence, we need to fill the creative well.

So! I figured I would give it a try.

My daughter wanted to do an activity together last night and she chose drawing. We got our paper and pencils and How to Draw Scooby Doo book out and set to work on the kitchen table.

I drew a pretty darn good picture of Scooby Doo, if I do say so myself, and had great fun doing it. My daughter, who is a fabulous artist, drew a much more complicated picture of the sleuthing dog, and stroked my ego by telling me, "See, Mom? You CAN draw!"

When I went up to my office an hour or so later, I turned on the laptop, opened my Word doc.,  and started typing. It was slow going at first as I tried to feel my way back into the story. It took me a few hundred words to get going again, but then something "clicked" inside my brain...and I was off!

I wrote over 2,000 words last night and had to make myself stop so I could get to bed. I'd call that a successful writing session.

My advice? Next time you're stuck, do something else creative that doesn't involve writing. Draw a picture. Sew something. Paint. Scrapbook. Arrange a bouquet of wildflowers. You might be surprised at how well your writing takes off!

Monday, June 20, 2011

An Experiment

I usually exercise after work, and although I don't enjoy it and sometimes dread it all day long, I've generally been successful in keeping a steady schedule.

This week, however, I am trying something different.

I'm exercising during my lunch hour.

Today was the first day to try out this new schedule, and I gotta say, I already love it. I eat lunch at work, head to Curves, get in my 30 minute work-out, head home to take a quick shower, then back to work, all in the space of my lunch hour.

Not only have I felt more awake this afternoon, but I also can head straight home from the office. No detouring to the gym and losing a precious hour of downtime, and no coming up with a million excuses not to go work out.

We'll see how the experiment goes in the coming weeks. But I think I've hit upon a winner.

Do you have a certain time of the day you prefer to exercise? And if you're not exercising, get up and move! Your body - and your writing - will thank you for it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Slow Down

There are times I feel my bones itching.

Itching to get the novel done.

Itching to send out the query letter.

Itching to get published.

Now.

Chocolate does not always assuage this itch, and I have to do something a little more drastic. Writing in my journal helps. So does praying.

I must constantly remind myself that slowing down and enjoying the process is worth it.

We live in an age where we want everything now. But that's not always a good thing. Doing something well often takes time. And we must allow ourselves the time we need to do the best job possible.

I want to write the best book I can - every time. Each story demands it. As the creator, it's my job to honor that demand.

So yes, I could submit to the culture of "now" and whip out my novel as fast as possible. I could cut corners and skimp on the message. I could choose the "good enough" word instead of the "best" word. I could throw together a hackneyed plot. I could skim the surface of my characters instead of digging deep into their psyche.

I could.

But I won't.

Will you?
Learn a lesson from Kathryn: slow down (and take lots of naps).

Lesson for today: it's ok to slow down. It's ok to write slow. It's ok to mull over those words and dream about that plot. It's ok if you're not published tomorrow or next week or even next year.

Don't fall for the culture of "now." Set your own pace...and enjoy the process.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Calories Don't Count Today...

...because it's my birthday!

Strange, how birthdays are less and less fun the older you get. :-)

Plans include:

--lunch with my hubby and my daughter
--a visit to this museum to see a John Wayne exhibit (this weekend)
--cake!
--chocolate!
--a visit to Barnes & Noble
--and NO COUNTING CALORIES!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Randomness Part Deux

Aren't you the lucky ones? More random thoughts coming your way...

1) Oh, if the weather could only stay in the high 70s, I'd be a happy gal. Saturday and Sunday saw temperatures hovering right around 79 or 80 degrees with a lovely cool breeze. I threw every window in the house open that I could (i.e. those that aren't painted shut).

2) Kung Fu Panda 2 is brilliant. The plot was quite well-done. Yes, I paid $25 for my daughter, her two friends, and I to be able to say that. And let's not get into how much I paid for snacks. What movie theaters charge for popcorn and soda is outrageous.

3) When you take a walk and actually look at the surrounding landscape, you can find some beautiful things. My daughter and I took a walk Friday evening and picked some gorgeous wildflowers in a variety of colors: bright yellow, pale blue, dark pink, and even creamy white. Amazing what you can find in your own backyard.

4) Walking continues to be my main form of exercise, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Unfortunately, messed up hormones continue to make it almost impossible to shed any weight. This displeases me.

5) I have largely ignored getting sucked into controversial topics in the online political realm and am a much happier person. I think some people just like conflict, and deliberately antagonize people to produce more conflict. Ridiculous.

6) The temperature at work is never, and I mean never, a happy medium. When it's hot out, it's hot inside. When it's cold out, it's cold inside. I thought we had figured this particular problem out a long time ago - when it's hot out, you run the air conditioner. When it's cold out, you run the heater. Simple logic? Apparently not.

7) Camouflage tuxedos? Oh yes. You heard right. And my lucky husband gets to wear one for a family wedding he's in over the 4th of July. Pictures? Oh yes, I will be snapping them left and right. Not only is it rare to get my husband in a tux, but rarer still is the opportunity to capture him in a camouflage tux. Bwhahahahaha!

8) During my walk the other day, I ran into a lady with a dog that looked exactly like my Charlie Brown. I had to talk to her. She told me what a smart dog he was, showed me all the tricks he knew, then went on her way. Not a minute later, I saw another woman with a dog that looked exactly like my Charlie. My daughter and I determined that this was Charlie's way of telling us "hello", and then I cried. Yes, I still miss that dog desperately.

9) I may have to relinquish my "official lasagna maker" title. Yesterday, hubby went to early church service, and I went to the late service. By the time I got home, he had made lasagna and it was good. I mean really good. This does not displease me. The more he cooks, the more I have time to write. Ha! (I will gladly do the dishes, though...).

10) Speaking of writing, I spent lots of time on the novel this weekend. Glorious. I'm approaching the climax of the novel and as such, taking my time to make sure I get the pacing right. It's hard and frustrating, but completely worth it.

11) I went to a garage sale and bought a picture for my living room that will match exactly. How much did I pay? $2. How much did the original owner pay? $140. The price was actually marked on the back. Bargain? I think so.

12) The new kitty, who is not so new by now, has a death wish. He attacks my cat whenever he gets the chance despite my cat's warning growls and hisses. They wrestle on the floor, chase each other up and down the stairs, and smack each other with their paws. Remarkably, the little guy, as I call him, does not stop. He keeps hounding her, to the point where he stalks her, then leaps on her back and they both tumble to the floor. My cat isn't hurting him...it's just a form of rough-housing, I guess. Will they eventually be best friends? I'm thinking no.

Here's the little guy, who is not so little anymore. He's just like a naughty toddler now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today, I Will...

Today, I will...

Hug my daughter.
Kiss my husband.
Listen to a bird sing.
Write.
Savor a piece of dark chocolate.
Forgive.
Lose myself in a book.
Smile.
Smile some more.
Laugh at my kitties.
Tell my family I love them.
Take a walk.
Praise God.
Be thankful for my blessings.
Enjoy the fact that it's Friday.
Be happy.

What will you do today?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Will You Ever Retire?

I just read an article about the famous mystery novelist, Lilian Jackson Braun, author of The Cat Who books, who recently passed away. She was 97 years old. She was still writing up until 2007 when she retired. That means she was still writing at the age of 93.

Think about that for a minute.

93 years old and still writing.

To me, this signifies that writing wasn't just a job for her - it was a way of life.

Writing is the same for me.

If I am blessed enough to live until I'm 93 and if my health allows it, I can pretty much guarantee I'll still be writing.

I don't plan on retiring from it. Why? Because if I retire from writing, I'll also be retiring from life. And who wants that?

Not me.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Agony and Ecstasy of Writing

When you're writing, do you ever get that feeling of pure joy deep in your gut? Like this is what you're supposed to be doing with your life? Like this activity completes you?


This weekend, I felt that joy, that ecstasy. It was glorious.

If you haven't felt that joy in awhile, it's time to find it again.

Time to hit refresh. Time to reevaluate. Time to rediscover.

You won't always feel it. That's as it should be. There are days when the writing is hard and you'd rather chuck your manuscript into the trash icon on your computer. Days you wander around the house trying to figure out why you chose this profession when you could have been just another office drone (as an office drone myself, I laugh at the irony).

That's part of the process. But if you didn't have those days, you wouldn't know what that joy was all about. You wouldn't appreciate it. You wouldn't keep writing until you found that joy, that ecstasy, again.

Sometimes, we don't know what light is until we see darkness. We don't appreciate sunshine until it rains day after day. We don't marvel at those beautiful writing days until we have the really, really bad writing days.

It's agony, and it's ecstasy.

It's hot and cold.

It's good and bad.

And we need it all.

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Today is the 67th Anniversary of D-Day. Please visit my World War II blog for a tribute to the individual men who made this day possible.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Back Home for Keeps

My recent research has let me to study the ads of World War II. I know...geeky, right? But I love magazines from that era and have amassed quite a collection (one that keeps growing!).

One advertising campaign that I really enjoy is from Oneida and their Community Silverplate products. This campaign centered on "when the boys came home" from the war "for keeps" to the women they love. The art on these ads is just gorgeous

The copy is also rather breathtakingly romantic:

"Stop the clocks, blow the whistles, catch-your-throat, hold-your-heart--it's true, dear God, it's true, he's home for keeps. All your dreams spring alive, all your hopes wake anew, all the life for two you've ached for will be yours to have and to hold.

Now you can plan - take a holiday from heartache. There'll be crisp curtains to hang in the windows, a deep chair for him, a low chair for you. There'll be fine linen to lay on your table, the fragrance of flowers, the friendly gleam of sparkling silverware. Today war postpones your finding your favorite Community--patterns brides have ever loved, traditional craftsmanship they've honored. But when he's home for keeps, we'll have it for you. And trust tomorrow, the day will come!"

This advertising campaign was immensely successful. In fact, the company received tons of requests for the art alone. Soldiers who were tired of the classic pin-up girl posters wanted these pictures instead. Almost more than a million of these pictures were shipped to soldiers overseas and to men and women at home, too. They decorated college dorms and fox holes alike!

LIFE magazine even ran a story about the phenomenon in May of 1945 (which you can read by clicking here...how I LOVE the internet sometimes!!!).

But what is really interesting about these ads? There was no silverware to buy! It was all being used for the war. Oneida, like a lot of other companies, wanted to keep their name in the hearts and minds (and wallets) of the American populace and to remind them that they would resume making silverware when the boys came home.

I'd say they succeeded.

I'd also say that if I'd been alive during that time and saw these ads, I would have tacked them up to my walls, too!

It's Time

I've had this blog for over 10 years. But I'm finding that I go to it less and less. Maybe it's the death of blogging that broug...