Saturday, November 21, 2015

Overcoming Setbacks

Life is full of setbacks. This we all know. But it is how we overcome them that is important, right?

I recently got dealt yet another setback with my health. I had mono two years ago - and I was very, very sick.  Fast forward to today: test results show that my mono has reactivated. This is a rare occurrence, but as I'm learning, my body doesn't follow "normal" medical patterns. I have bizarre reactions to things and my doctors are fond of telling me that "I always have a surprise" for them. This isn't comforting, actually, because I'd rather know what is wrong with me and address it then wander around for months on end with no idea.

Despite having mono again (albeit not nearly as bad as last time), I've still got a deadline to meet for novel revisions for my agent. And meet that deadline I will. It means buckling down and focusing. It means not wallowing in misery and dwelling on how I feel. It means eschewing the lure of the Internet.

To prepare for this task, I've lit my candles, have my fireplace going, and have soothing classical music playing in the background. It's a chilly, yet sunny day outside, which means I'm not tempted at all to spend any time outdoors and really can't anyway with my health. And of course, my cats are keeping me company.
Not my fireplace, but one at the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London

It's the little things that can get us through the toughest situations.

And now, it's time to tackle those revisions.

What are your simple tricks for overcoming setbacks?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Writing, and Odds and Ends

On Writing and Deadlines

Deadlines can often feel like the enemy. But for me, they spur me to action.

Case in point. I need to get revisions on my novel to my agent by Monday, the 23rd. With that date firmly planted in my mind, I have been able to stay focused on those revisions, fight back procrastination (usually), and stay engaged with the writing process.

So after that wonderful holiday in England and a few weeks recuperating, I'm back to writing. Nose to the grindstone! And I love it. Having a hard and fast deadline and being accountable to someone makes it much easier to do the work.

A Few Odds and Ends

I've come across some really cool online events lately and wanted to share.

The Vintage Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Oh my stars. When I read about this, I couldn't wait to sign up. A secret Santa gift VINTAGE gift exchange with other vintage lovers? Yes, please! Head on over to Chronically Vintage and sign up. What a great way to start the holiday season! #vintagesecretsanta

The Pinterest Story Board Party

Elisabeth Grace Foley is hosting this writing-related blog party over at her blog, The Second Sentence. If you're on Pinterest and use it for storyboarding, you'll definitely want to join.

What about you? Anything fun to share?

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Where Have I Been? Across the Pond...

Oh, my poor blog, how I have neglected you! And honestly, blogging is something I really enjoy doing. I can't believe I haven't posted anything since September, but life was awfully complicated the last few months. And in October, it was complicated in the most delightful way!

I went to England for nine days. It was glorious and wonderful and frustrating and difficult and so, so many emotions rolled into one.

This is my third trip to England and this time, I took my 15-year-old daughter with me. The original impetus for going was to see Benedict Cumberbatch play in Shakespeare's Hamlet. When they made the announcement that he would be performing, I had a year and a half to save the money for the trip, so it was the perfect opportunity.

Therefore, most of September and the first few weeks of October were spent planning our trip. We left on Oct. 16 and came back Oct. 24. We spent a few days in London seeing all the usual tourist spots...


Parliament, the London eye, and of course, the iconic red double-decker bus.

The Thames next to Parliament.
Buckingham Palace. The Queen was in residence as evidenced by the flag.
...and some of the not-so-usual spots like Churchill's War Rooms and the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

The Map Room in Churchill's War Room. This is almost exactly like it looked during World War II.

The Sherlock Holmes museum!

Sherlock's violin.
We then went to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet. Oh my. It was quite glorious. He did an amazing job.

On Tuesday, we set off for Salisbury in southwest England to visit the Cathedral and take in some peace and quiet. I like London, but it is a city - dirty and busy and full of people - and my introvert nature had a really hard time after awhile. So I was more than ready to take a nice, leisurely train to Salisbury!

We were rewarded when we got there: a perfect, beautiful day of sunny skies and gorgeous, gorgeous scenery:

Salisbury Cathedral in the distance!

Calm. Quiet. Clean!

The River Walk.
We went to Salisbury Cathedral. I'd been here before on my first trip (back in 1995), but my daughter wanted to see it, so I was more than happy to go again. It didn't disappoint the second time around. When one walks into a cathedral, the enormity of the structure, the amount of time and skill it took to create, is breathtaking.

The worship hall.

One of the many prayer chapels.

Beautiful stained glass windows.

Detail of the ceiling work.

The Prisoner of Conscience Window

Organists have been here since 1463!
The Salisbury City Centre is absolutely charming. Salisbury is a medieval town and many of the buildings are original. The people are friendly, the atmosphere is relaxed, and it is altogether a different feel from London. I relished every minute of it.

Our plans were thwarted the next day. We had wanted to go to Wilton House, a grand estate a few miles from Salisbury, but we discovered on their website that they were closed for the season. We were heartbroken. But we decided to use the time to become further acquainted with Salisbury. During our time in Salisbury, we'd take a walk from our charming bed and breakfast to the city centre along the river walk. It was a beautiful stroll.

Then back to London we went. I was quite sad to leave Salisbury behind, as was my daughter. She's always wanted to live in London, but after experiencing London and then experiencing Salisbury, she'd much rather live in Salisbury! I don't have a problem with that at all. :)

In London, we took our last day there to visit The Who Shop (all things Doctor Who!) and then headed over to the Imperial War Museum. This is my second visit to this museum, but last time I went, I was not a World War II historian, so it was much more meaningful this time around. Plus, they had some new exhibits. The Holocaust exhibit was very well done and very sobering.

The Imperial War Museum

A boat used during the evacuation of Dunkirk.

A Nazi eagle from the Reichstag.
Why was our trip frustrating and exhausting as well as wonderful and amazing? Well, a few things. My health for one (I was running on adrenaline the entire time and as recent days have shown, I'm paying for it now!), but more importantly, it was navigation. I never use public transportation for anything here in Nebraska. I drive everywhere. I don't have to worry about Tube tickets and changing stations and train times and all the rest. Getting from point A to point B was challenging. Thankfully, after our first day there (where we got lost on the Tube, ended up running smack into a Free Palestine! rally complete with a helicopter and police presence, and then my bank card wouldn't work and I couldn't get any money, but that is another story...), I figured out how to navigate the Tube and also downloaded some very handy apps on my phone. But honestly? I'd rather take a Taxi or walk. When we left the Barbican Theatre late Monday night (where Hamlet was performed) I ponied up the money for a taxi home. It was much easier (and safer) than taking the Tube.

Wonderful and amazing? Well, I was in England. I am a Anglophile and I love this country and its culture. I loved eating fish and chips and scones with clotted cream and jam, and staying in a glorious Bed and Breakfast in Salisbury (travel tip: if you are going to England, stay in B&Bs! I have done that the past few times and have had a much better experience with them than a regular hotel) and watching my daughter's delight and fascination in experiencing a new country. I loved seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in person and seeing Shakespeare performed. I loved talking to English people (our B&B hostess was such a delight) and soaking in the beauty of the country itself.

Although we were ready to come home after our time there, I was a little bit sad to leave. I could easily live there a few months out of the year (maybe during our horrendous summers!), and there is so much more I want to see and experience.

But that is for the next trip!

A Note on Blogging...

I am going to make an effort to blog more. I miss it. And with my big trip behind me and life settling back to normal (here's hoping!), I'm going to try and blog at least twice a week. That's the goal!

On Writing...

I'm working on my novel again and it is wonderful! Plus, it's autumn and the trees are gorgeous, the air cooler, and November is here!

New Digs

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