Sunday, December 28, 2008

If it works, there will be a picture from Thanksgiving on here. We shall see. . .

Hope everyone had a happy and merry Christmas. Mine whizzed by much too fast once I got into the holiday spirit. Had some trouble with the Christmas tree at first. It had been so cold that we opted not to cut one down but went to Lowe's instead. They had three measly trees left, dropping needles but we went ahead and picked one against my better judgement. Dad tried to put it up for me but we ran into another problem - the stand was too small.

Bought another stand and then ran into problem number two - the tree had a crooked trunk and had no intention of standing in the stand. Dad gave it a valiant effort, even building a wooden frame to hold the tree in the stand - but it still had a tipsy appearance.

Since I'd wanted a fresh tree anyway, I asked Sister #2 and her hubby to cut one down. They found a beautifully shaped tree. I'll have to post some pictures because it's one of the prettiest trees we've had in years. The red icicles weren't my idea but one has to make concessions. . .LOL!

Christmas week ended up being brisk, breezy and actually quite warm. We hit 70 degrees the day after the holiday!! It's supposed to get cold again though so I'm not hoping for a return of winter/spring.

Got back into the writing groove on Saturday. Sent out worksheets, sent out articles for the student newspaper at church, worked on a first draft for another writing job and sent off a first chapter to a literary agency offering a query holiday. Today I managed to do a bit more. Tomorrow I have to dive back into my many projects and decide what I want to work on first. Finishing Cattle Rustler for good seems a possibility.

Have been reading some books on plotting before writing. While it seems it might help some, I can't say that it's always foolproof. I can remember sitting down and doing a storyboard for Cattle Rustler. Had the whole thing planned out - knew exactly what would happen, when it should happen and how it would end. The problem was that after I wrote it that way I realized I'd rewritten the same book as my first Jenny. So, back to the computer - had to redo the ending. Once I realized that, I realized I had to rewrite more. Then I sent that version out to my new crit partners who made more suggestions. Realized I needed to rewrite the beginning so I did. Once I did that, I decided the new ending didn't work because there was no motivation for Jenny to get into the trouble she did.

So. . .I think I have it this time and I'm writing it for the last time. However it turns out, it does.

I'm also looking at a couple of contests for my adult manuscripts. Really need some feedback on my horse book and Stepmother. So that should take care of January!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just a test to see if the photo upload is STILL working. I think I have everything on my pc working RIGHT now. It's a great feeling. Right now, I need all the great feelings I can crumble together - especially in light of a defunct cookie press, a tipsy Christmas tree, a zillion pre-Christmas things to do and the fact that I've spent more time trying to get my pc in shape than working at Christmas prep. Ah, well -
This is a photo of my dad with some of his great-grandchildren at a September wedding. We have Samantha, Kris, Stephanie, Taylor, Dad, Mariah, Austin, Emma, Drew, Braedon, Mackenzie and Hayleigh in front with the doll.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Whoa! Well, clearly I have solved the photo upload problem. Thanks, Leona for the suggestions! This is also clearly not the Thanksgiving mug shot --LOL! These little cuties are the Dionne Quintuplets and they are dressed very appropriately for today's snowy weather. I've long been a quint collector and wish I had this postcard in my collection - sigh.

Last night I tried several things and ended up with both my emails not working. My MSN account would open the emails, but not let me reply. So I went to my Hotmail account which is really the same thing but opens on a different page. Go figure. I really love the Hotmail account better as it has emoticons, colors and is easier to use. For some reason while I was on the photo upload fix, the Hotmail stopped opening the email. So I could open and read on MSN, but not reply. I could not open or reply on Hotmail. This morning it fixed by angel power, I'm sure. There is no other explanation.

This week has been hard from a computer angle. My worksheet batch got scambled and refused to open at my editor's end. I tried five times to resend. He kept emailing back - nope, not right yet. My plan had been to download MSWORD on here anyway and go to that almost exclusively. (Even though I do like Word Perfect.) So, had to download word, retype the worksheets into word (only three as I had already downloaded word on the laptop and written some on that.) Then, send them in and wait. Sure was relieved on Friday to get an email - they look fine now! Whew!! Got paid later that day Praise God.

With all that, I didn't get to do much fiction writing. Am rethinking part of Cattle Rustler now and will probably work this week at rewritting those chapters. Am not sure what that will do for my plan to have the book in final form by the end of the year. :(

Managed to read part of one of the Kentucky Derby books yesterday after the spinning class. To my surprise, I discovered that the man who started the race --Clark committed suicide on my birthdate a hundred and forty three years before I was born. Very strange coincidence.

Time to get a ride next door to watch White Christmas, one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hmmmmm--for some reason my blog has stopped allowing me to post pictures. Will have to figure this out somehow.

Not much activity here. We started back to Leaves yesterday after our Thanksgiving break. For various reasons, we were 45 minutes late for class. So - okay - it takes me awhile to get back in the groove!
Have been feeling kind of icky anyway.

I am slowly working through the edits on Cattle Rustler. Hoping to have it finished by the end of December. We shall see - Christmas and all the preparations for that will be in there somewhere.

Got the assignment for the Drummer boy article! Need to send out a couple more queries this week. I'm setting a goal to send out ten a month - unless I get so many assignments it would be foolhardy to add more work to my list.

We got our first spitting snowfall. It didn't last but it looked ominous. Funny, I'm not a fan of snow but I love anything snowman. Am drinking a nice hot cup of tea out of a snowman mug right now. Mmmmmmmmmm....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention . . .
63, 355 words. Even doing the NaNo Rebel and using
some of the words I already had written, I managed to
add more than I anticipated to Stepmother. Looks like
I've got a great start now although plenty of it is total junk and will have to be rewritten. Kind of makes me hopeful I will finish something this year.
And where is the picture???? For some reason, the Thanksgiving group shot did not post with the last post. It doesn't want to work tonight either. Will try again soon.

I'm happy anyway. Tomorrow, I need to get caught up on some much needed work.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksving to All

Here's the latest mug shot of the group. We ended up taking this before everyone got there because a couple of people had to leave. It's gotten harder and harder to get everyone together at one time. Still, we had a nice dinner (in shifts), company (in shifts), and lots of picture taking. Jenny went around snapping outlandish photos of people eating, touching their noses or at odd angles. She got one of my right ear, one of my left ear, one of the clip in my hair, my nose, my chin, my left elbow, my open mouth and others too weird to mention. At the end of the day, some of us trooped next door and watched a slide show on Lori's Wii.

Today was my day to get back into the groove of work. I can say I gave it a valiant effort although I didn't actually write anything but emails and one query letter. Managed to do a small bit of organizing, clean up in my bedroom and sorting out piles of clutter. Can now say that I don't have a single notebook that hasn't been marked with colored post it minis telling me what's inside them. Have files for my current WIP's ready to go. Put the extra computer away for parts. (Since the hard drive crashed, I've decided to just use that pc for extras. When I can afford a hard drive, I'll put an extra in this pc.) As of today, almost everything is saved on the pc (still have a few files on the laptop yet.) ALL my photos are on disk or flash drive - twice!

If I can do two more crits and a long book share crit, I'll be caught up with crits!! If I write two more worksheets tomorrow, I can send out a batch and get paid next week. Feel like there is light at the end of a tunnel.

Also, got a nice email yesterday. The day before Thanksgiving, just on a whim, I decided to cut and paste a short trivia article I wrote on PEEPS, the marshmallow candy. Had found a history magazine that accepted trivia and it sounded like fun. An email came zining back that he accepted the article and it would be in the April, 09 issue! They'll send the check out on publication---hooray!

As if that wasn't good enough, he mentioned that if I had any suggestions, comments, etc. please feel free to email him back. So, I wrote back to ask if I should send queries to him. Had a couple of ideas on the Drummer boys of the Civil War and Sybil Ludington, the female Paul Revere. He zinged back an email while I was still online--yes, he'd love to see the queries and would give me a Feb. deadline for the Drummer boy and March deadline for Sybil - like he already planned to accept them! Sent back a nice query with more details on the drummers - no word yet. Maybe tomorrow???

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's time for Congratulations!

To Kathi - for finishing one NaNo project in the first week and beginning another!
To Maribeth - for signing up for your first year in NaNo! It's a beginning step. Also congratulations for starting a new critique group and having a great first session.
To Patty - for signing up and finishing NaNo two weeks before the deadline!! I knew you could do it. Also congratulations on your first granddaughter!
To Leona - for having a poem make it into the selection process of Blue Mountain Arts. Let's hope for a sale!
To Judy - for having someday happen! Congratulations on your first book sale, Where is Papa's Shining Star?, at Wild Rose Press!
To Sheri - for finaling in the 2008 Fiction from the Heartland contest! Here's hoping you get the great news in January that you've won. Light of Truth is a super story and deserves a first place.
To Erica - for getting a three book contract with Barbour House! Way to go!

And, to me - for actually getting something done today! I supercleaned the bathroom, did school work with the boys and turned on my laptop. Okay, so I shut it right back down - but I turned it on! Tomorrow has got to be better.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Organizing and NaNoing . . .

Seems like the days are moving on fast foward now that the holidays are approaching. Wasn't it just September yesterday? How did it get to be November already?

I've been working at NaNo but not sure if I'll get to the total word count this year. Makes me kind of mad at myself for not trying harder. Last year I kept doggedly on when all my other friends fell by the wayside. (And you know WHO YOU ARE--LOL!) This year everyone else seems to be whizzing ahead while I'm still stuck because of a) the hard drive fiasco, b) too many other projects and c) laziness? I write everyday, for hours everyday and yet, I'm not working too much on the NaNo project.
Guess one can't have it all. I'm working as a paid writer each day. If there isn't time for fiction right now, that's the way it has to be.
Have no idea why I started a blog post at almost eleven at night. I am too tired for a coherent thought. Especially since I am into my usual pillage of the 'black hole of calcutta' namely, my walk in closet. It had gotten so bad things were actually falling out when I opened the door - and it's a WALK-IN closet. It's big enough to double as a spare room (and did.) When I was a teenager, it was my bedroom. Enough said. It's like a treasure hunt now that I'm actually cleaning it out.
Have already found dozens of books and things to give away, a whole box of ebay possibilities and some things I needed including labels and a watering can. (Don't ask.) Also found more dolls and two doll cradles for my collection. Thought I'd thrown those away or someone burned them when the barn went. I also came up with an idea on how to get the kid's ERTEL collection down in the basement. Have to visit Lowe's tomorrow for a snap together shelf unit and get the boys to help me.
The quints are from my postcard collection. Need to have room to display some of my Quint goodies.

Monday, October 20, 2008

To NANO or not. . . Had been debating over whether or not to do NaNo again this year. I happily spent last November slugging away at "Run for the Roses," a historical mystery set during a Kentucky Derby. Spent several weeks in October researching early Kentucky and Cincinnati history, photocopying photos and taking notes. Eventually, I'd love to finish this book but that's for the future.

My main concern about doing NANO this year was that pesky little provision - you had to start from scratch. While I have plenty of projects I could begin, I didn't feel that I wanted to start another one. I'm right in the middle of trying to finish two different books, working on a third and sending out proposals for a fourth. I didn't want another unfinished project taking up a whole month.

Then someone suggested I look at the NaNo site for a forum called "NaNo Rebels." It turns out that lots of folks are in the same boat as me. They want to finish something, not begin another something new. Enter the rebels. We are all writers who want to work on a work in progress. The nice people at NaNo, realizing our dilemma, have come up with a clause --- if you have won at NaNo in a previous year, you can keep on working on a work in progress. So, thanks to "Run for the Roses," and winning last year, I invoke the clause!

NaNo --- here I come!

Who's going to join me?

Monday, October 13, 2008

And the name going on to the BIG DRAWING for the lovely gift basket is ----- PATTYK!

I'm sending your name on to the blog where the drawing will take place. October 19th is the big day! Here's hoping you win! Thanks for commenting and entering the blog tour contest.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The photo above is of myself with Carol Cartaino, former editor of Writer's Digest books. Carol graciously gives her time to moderate a once a month writing group at our local library.

My friend, Patty, took this picture to use with an article about my Genesis win at the recent ACFW conference in Minnesota. I would try to reprint the wonderful article here (Patty did a super job! Thanks, again!!) but figure I've already made enough copies to send out to everyone who reads this blog anyway. So if you don't get a copy of the article soon, just remind me. Or I might be able to figure out how to do a link to the Times Gazette archives.

The article was well written and made me feel famous! Got several nice congratulations in town by folks who'd read the article. It's nice to know there are people who can be sincere with their good wishes. I also got to "show off" a little with the award certificate. It will be nice to remember the happy moments as I struggle to finish writing the book. Most of writing, I'm beginning to believe, happens in a vacumn of oneself and a blank screen.
This past week has been one of ups and downs. On Monday I manged to do quite a few of my October writing goals. Wrote and printed four query letters for Snipped in the Bud. Got caught up on about six critiques (more still to go.) Also bought a new cartridge to print out more proposal packets on Snipped in the Bud and The Cattle Rustling Catastrophe.
One of my October goals was to finish the revised edition of Cattle Rustler and transfer it to Microsoft Word. It's coming along.
Another was to do a chapter per week in my historical romance -- have two chapters done so far. Lots of reserach books ordered and on my shelves ready to be read.
Also do two pages or more per night of the demon book. Was going along great on this and getting about four to five pages down per night. Then, I had a minor setback this Tuesday. Had to have a molar pulled and it's really taken a toll on me. My face is still swollen and puffy, mouth is still sore and I'm eating only soft and mushy foods. Believe me, soup and cottage cheese are overrated. Tried a Peppermint Patty tonight and almost chocked on it. Somehow, that's one candy that should be eaten from the front teeth, not on the side. :)
Anyway, Mr. Tooth prevented me from working much at all this week. Didn't get my query letters mailed out. Didn't even get to address the envelopes until today. Wrote nothing until I worked on some worksheets yesterday for about an hour. Tried to work a bit today but it made my head ache. Might be from the antibiotic and pain pills too. Have never used pain pills for a tooth problem past the first day. This time is different.
But, I am so grateful and thanking God that He answered my prayers. The tooth came out relatively easy (no surgery or having to be put to sleep, no stitches or horror stories about nerve damage) and even with medication, I only paid about $105.00. One of the nurses had given me a run down a few days before with lots of the high priced end of things---"well, it could start at around two hundred. . .!" Yikes!
Had a minor reaction to the numbing medication but that was all. The worst thing about Tuesday was feeling too ill to even read! By Wednesday, I could read and did but frustration had also set in. There's so much to do!!
I'm hoping for more recovery by tomorrow so I can finish a worksheet batch and get them sent off.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Everyone take a look at the cool book below. This is my first time to host a blog tour! Anyone who leaves a comment on my blog this week will be entered in a drawing (see info below) for a goodie basket.

Contest instructions: From comments on this blog post, I will draw one randomly drawn name and email it to enter into the drawing for a Christmas basket (valued at $200!) A list of the contents are at our Scrapbook blog. Those leaving comments on our Scrapbook blog during the Christmas Blog Tour will also be entered. All names must be sent to me by October 14. The winner's name will be announced on October 19.

Read about the terrific book and enter to win!

(Leafwood Publishers, October 2008)

A wonderful new gift book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, is available in October for Christmas giving. Today, I’ve invited the six coauthors to share their unique story of how they came together to publish this exciting book full of stories, recipes, tips for simplifying the holidays and so much more (click on bookcover to see the trailer!).

First, let me introduce Cathy Messecar, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen and Karen Robbins. Thank you for being here today, ladies.

Karen: Thank you for the invitation.

You are from three different areas of the country—Texas, California, and Ohio. How did you all meet?

Terra: We all six joined The Writers View, an online group for professional Christian writers. Trish and Brenda met in person in 2004 for lunch, I understand, and on 9/18/04, after reading a post Brenda sent to TWV, I sent an email to Brenda, asking if she would like to join with me and walk alongside each other, as a Barnabas group. Brenda said yes that same day, and suggested Trish too. Very quickly Cathy, Leslie and Karen joined in and our stalwart band of six was formed. Living in California, I was so happy to find 5 Barnabas writers in other states so we could bring together a wealth of different viewpoints and expertise

Brenda: Actually, We haven’t met. We’re all great colleagues and friends via the internet. Four years ago Terra and I formed a dyad to support each other as Christians who write in the secular markets. Along came Trish, Cathy, Karen, and Leslie (not necessarily in that order) and we formed a close knit bond of support, creative energy, and professional accountability.

Karen: I met Trish through an online forum called The Writers View and she invited me to join the group.

Trish: Although we belong to the same Yahoo writing group, we met one by one online. Eventually, the six of us decided that since we all write as Christians for a secular market through magazine articles and newspaper columns, we could support and encourage one another.

Leslie: Though we met virtually through The Writers View, I have been blessed to give and get hugs from Trish (at a MOPS conference), Cathy (in the area on business) and Karen (in town for a writers' conference). I can’t wait to meet Terra and Brenda face-to-face, though I feel as though I already know them!

How did you come up with the idea to do a book together?

Brenda: The book is Cathy’s brainchild. She mentioned the concept of telling stories of events that happened for the first time at Christmas and sharing holiday historical tidbits and recipes and each said, “If you need any help, let me know.” That offer morphed into each of us equally contributing and co-authoring A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Trish: Yep, Cathy came up with the idea and the title, and asked us if we wanted to join her on this project. Of course, we said Yes!

Terra: Cathy mentioned the idea for a Christmas book to the group, and someone (I think it was Leslie) suggested that maybe our group could all write the book together. Cathy agreed to lead the way on the project. The earliest email I have on this is from 9/7/05, which shows that this has been a three year collaboration from idea to publication.

Karen: (Chuckling) Terra is a librarian and keeps our historical records by saving our e-mails.

Leslie: Actually, Terra, I wrote that comment (in a group e-mail) kind of tongue-in-cheek. Cathy, the ultra-sweet person she is, took my joking at face value and here we are. However, I believe God prompted the passion and ideas we all bring to the project and that He will do mighty things as a result of our collaboration!

Why did you decide on a Christmas theme?

Brenda: It was Cathy’s concept to write a book centering on Christmas.

Cathy: For several years, I’d been thinking about Christmas as a threshold to introduce Jesus to folks who aren’t familiar with him, and I love a simpler Christmas with the emphasis on family, friends and doing for others. I knew of some families who had experienced “firsts” at Christmas—reunions, losses, special surprises—and I wanted to collect those stories.

Terra: Cathy’s idea immediately resonated with me because Christmas books are “a way past watchful dragons,” as C. S. Lewis wrote. Many people won’t buy a book about being a Christian, but will buy a holiday and family fun book, thus the “past watchful dragons.” People who want to grow in their faith, and people who have no faith but celebrate Christmas will buy our book and hopefully be led to put the focus back on Christ for the holiday, and for their lives.

Leslie: Though Cathy birthed the idea, the rest of us quickly hopped on board. Not only is Christmas special to me—especially now that I have a family of my own—but also that particular holiday cries out to be simplified, to return to the meaningful aspects of celebration, and to lose some of the hype and commercialism.

Tell me a little about what is in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts? What is your favorite part?

Cathy: I like that you can read one chapter in about 15 minutes and, with all the different suggestions, it feels like Christmas Eve. Makes you want to set up the nativity! Many of the suggestions for family activities can be adapted for any family get-together.

Karen: There are heartwarming stories about things that happened for the first time at Christmas. For instance, one of my stories is about the first Christmas with our adopted children. And the book is pretty. When I first saw the colorful pages and drawings, I fell in love with the illustrator’s work.

Brenda: I don’t have a favorite part – I love it all!

Terra: I like the way the parts are woven into a seamless whole, like a patchwork quilt, that is stronger and more beautiful than the parts.

Trish: It’s like everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas, all the best tips and recipes, and neat stories all wrapped up in this perfect little package.

Leslie: I love reading the special stories, hints, recipes—whatever—and imagining the precious family time that precipitated each moment. Plus, the book is gorgeous, beautifully printed, truly something to be proud of. And we are.

I’ve heard that the book is really a nice gift book; can you tell me a little about the format?

Cathy: Yes, it’s a hardbound book, full color interior. The layout makes it easy to read. It has a definite scrapbooky look on the interior. Different logos identify sections, such as an oilcloth-look Christmas stocking appears beside the “Stocking Stuffer Tradition” (help for connecting family members), and the “Cookie Canister” recipes are on a recipe card, and the back ground of “A Gift For You” is a gift box with bow. It’s a classy gift that they can be placed on a coffee table or in a guest bedroom during the holiday season.

Brenda: I like to describe it as a Starbuck’s sorta gift book. It’s high quality, crisp, and practical.

With six different personalities and areas of ministry, how did you manage to put this all together and still remain friends?

Karen: We pray a lot for each other and it helps that none of us have an over-inflated ego.

Cathy: There were no squabbles. Surely, we had differing opinions, but we knew that any of us could suggest an idea for this book and that each idea would get fair reviews from others. We actually voted on some aspects—everyone in favor say, “Aye.” If you’ve ever watched women at a Dutch treat luncheon when they divide up a meal ticket, it can be intense as they split the ticket down to the penny. As the project came together, I was in awe of my gracious coauthors, unselfish women who respect each other.
For some decisions, we did a round robin—things like book title and chapter titles and what categories to put into the book. Then, as compiler, I’d send out a list of needs to The Word Quilters, that’s what we call ourselves. For instance in a section we call “Peppermints for Little Ones” (hints for children’s activities), I’d put out a call, and the WQs sent in their hints, and then I put them into appropriate chapters.

Brenda: (Smiling) Are we still friends? Seriously, we each have our own platform, ministry, and family life, and those interests kept this project in perspective – it was important but not the only thing on our plates. No one was so enmeshed in this project that she campaigned for her own way. We never had a bitter disagreement or insistence to be “right.”

Terra: We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.We offer support and ideas for our separate writing projects and for personal prayer requests. I love these ladies, and I have only met one of them in person. So far, Karen is the only one who has met each of us, and one day we hope to meet in person, in a circle of friendship and love.

Trish: I think we are all very flexible and forgiving. We do have a variety of personalities here, but God has worked amazing things through our little group.

Leslie: Though I have seven non-fiction projects in various stages of completion, I could not be more thankful that this is the one to reach publication first. I am truly blessed to have worked with these women, learned from them, watched as they’ve poured heart and soul into crafting a product that will impact lives for the Lord.

Where can my readers get a copy of SOCF?

Cathy: The coauthors will all have a supply, plus our publisher, Leafwood Publishers, will have plenty of copies and discounts for buying five or more. Or they can be ordered at most online stores or by your local bookstore.

Karen: And anyone who leaves a comment here can be entered in a drawing for a free book and a gift basket worth $200! For a list of its contents, check our blog, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. And while you're there, leave another comment and increase your chances of winning!

Tell me more about your blog.

Karen: We started our blog in July and it is accumulating a wealth of information about Christmas. Each of us posts one day a week following the theme for that week. Watch for new recipes, tips, ways to simplify, stories, etc., similar to what is in our book.

Leslie: Ooh, ooh, let me answer this one. I’m probably the newest to blogging among the group, but I LOVE it. I’ve enjoyed posting and receiving comments back from readers. What an amazing adventure having an online voice can be! This blog will focus on a different theme each week—anything from tips to avoid overeating during the holidays to how to give a guest room special touches—and expand on the material in the book. I think readers will get to know the authors’ individual personalities and connect on a more personal level. Plus, they get that many more ideas, information, inspiration (!) at no additional cost.

WQs: As an added bonus for inviting us to your blog, we’d like to pass along this Christmas tidbit to you and your readers:

Enjoy a blessed Christmas this year! And thanks for inviting us to share our book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, with you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And the results are ----- Wrestling Demons wins 2nd place in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category at the ACFW conference!!!
Here I am with Carol Cartaino at the Highland County Writer's Meeting.
We took this picture for the local paper.

I am totally thrilled with placing at all even though second place might not seem like a win to others. In fact, one lady came up to me after the awards banquet, patted my arm and said, "Don't worry, honey, maybe you'll do better next year." Am sure I was polite enough not to roll my eyes but I wanted to. :)

This is such an honor to win. Once I hang the certificate on my wall, I'll be able to look at it this winter as I'm writing the rest of the book. It's going to be great incentive to finish.
The conference went better than I expected. The workshops were fantastic with lots of new information. It made me realize how much I don't know about writing and how much I do. Realized in the Early Bird class that I had been doing quite a few things I let others tell me were "wrong." Not so -- according to Margie Lawson. It made me more confident in writing with my own style and not stressing critiques or opinions so much.
Can't even list all the terrific people I met! It was just incredible having so many encouaging, supportive people. Will try to list just a few and if I've forgotten to list your name--you email me right away! There were, of course, the wonderful Ohio people--Sharon and Rosanna, Chris and Kathleen, Carol and Shelley. I'm so glad you all sat with me at the banquet and kept me calm. Thanks too for all the chats, the meals and the support.
Janet and Deb--thanks for showing me the ropes and all the fun meals.
It was great to finally meet you both in person.
Naomi -- wow, you are such a terrific person and I'm so glad we met! Really enjoyed the workshops we attended together. Thanks for sticking out the one sheet workshop until mine came under 'attack.' Yes, let's keep in touch!
Becky, Holly, Tina, Karen, Melanie, Rochelle, Amy, Laurie - well, I just know I'm going to leave someone out! There were just too many great people in the same place. Hope to see you all in Denver and that we can keep in touch through the year. Next time, I'm going to take more pictures.
And I have to give an extra special thanks to Sharon Dunn, my paid critiquer, who really made the conference special by taking the time to talk and encourage me. Thank you, Sharon for the critique, the excellent suggestions and encouragement! One of the nicest memories of Minneapolis is remembering how sweet you were to a beginner like me. Hope you sold out of books at the Mall of America book signing. I'm going to put the picture of us with our awards over my computer and hope someday I can be as nice to another writer as you were to me.
Guess what I'll remember most about the conference are all the great people. It was fun to win, even though I did trip going up the steps to the stage. If Brandilyn Collins hadn't grabbed my hand, I'd have fallen on my face. Realized later that I didn't even smile at Camy Tang I was too nervous. All I could think was "Brandilyn Collins is TOUCHING me and I read her books!"
I'm sure everyone wants to know what happened about my book manuscript since the purpose of a writer's conference is to meet editors and agents. Well, a lot happened and a lot didn't. Found out my dreaded one sheet---oh, how could I forget--THANK YOU, LORNA! You did a super, super job designing my one sheet. Anyway, my one sheet was darned good. It even interested Chip MacGregor, agent. I submitted it in a one sheet workshop where three agents offered suggestions. Mine passed and they liked parts. Had left out a crucial word which got a laugh (cringing) but my first paragraph drew them in. They suggested cutting the second paragraph and just using the first to entice a second reading.
SO, I met with two agents and an editor with my beautifully designed, though flawed in content one sheet. Two kept it, one said she didn't want a lot of stuff to carry home but would love--yup, that's what she said--:) --to read the finished product. The others said pretty much the same thing--they would be interested in reading it once it's finished. Which I knew.
Guess my main goal in going was to see if Wrestling Demons could "pass."
If anyone would find it interesting enough to read more. Am more than satisfied at getting an answer.
Oh, and I got my final round scores from the Genesis contest which were very surprising! One high, one low. The judges agreed on several points and those are items easily fixed. The rest of the scores were all over the place---one loved what the other hated. One judge admits to being a harsh judge and said my work was 'edgy' -- go figure. She also thought it might be a 'hard sell' due to the content. Am I discouraged? Nope. This is one book I'm sure of --- but it's sure going to be a lot of work!
It's nice to know that there are agents, editors and others who find it an interesting plot and premise. That should keep me going for awhile.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fall is in the air!

It's a drizzly afternoon, due to Hurricane Ike. While I love the cooler sleeping weather, the gray skies have done nothing to improve my already shaky mood. The closer the times gets to actually leaving for the writing conference, the more apprehensive I become.

I don't really think it's because of having to 'showcase' my writing. (In a sense anyway. It's like setting up a lemonade stand at the end of your driving and saying, "I don't care if anyone buys it or not. I just LOVE to make lemonade." Of course you are out there with something to SELL and you want someone to love it enough to BUY by offering a contract.) My work will either stand or fall and at this late date there is nothing I can do about it.

It could be that I'm excited and terrified at the same time of meeting so many new people. So many people who are names will become faces and we'll share a unique experience. Maybe some of them will become friends. Some I may never see again. The possibilities are endless for what might happen.

There are also people I've only met once or twice that I'm looking forward to seeing again. Several people I've only "met" online and would like to know better.

But, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm going to this conference with the blessings, the love and support of so many people. I couldn't have made it myself! My friend, Jean, who first gave me the money to join ACFW and to enter the Genisis contest. The super wonderful people in Ohio who gave me a partial scholarship so that the dream of going to the conference became a reality. Then my friend, Janet, who generously offered to pay for the hotel.

Then I have to count all the friends who did the small things - although not so small when you add up the spirit of generosity and giving each entailed. To Maribeth who kept scouting up odd jobs among her relatives so that I could earn extra cash for the trip. She also trudged through store after store with me and waited patiently while I tried on clothes. Together we went to a booksigning and an ACFW Meet and Greet so that I could meet some of the people who would be at the conference. We shared lunches and tea and she let me talk and talk and talk!

To her and Patty, who trudged through the mall with me and talked me into buying THE dress for the Award Banquet. To Patty who generously chipped in to pay for the dress and treated me to lunch so I could "save money for the trip." Patty was also one of the first to read the contest entry and whittle it down to a respectable length. She made suggestions that helped more than I can say.

Thank you, Maribeth and Patty!! You two are fantastic and I'm glad we're friends. (I'm Donna Patton and I approve of this message. :))

Then there are so many other wonderful people I have to thank for encouragement, support, friendship and just plain, 'atta girl!' It's like I'm going to the conference surrounded by a bubble of love.

To Kathi - super crit partner! - who read all the drafts and never got tired of the manuscript. She actually plans to do crits for the WHOLE book and will keep pressing until I finish the dirty darned thing! To April who read the first draft and made so many helpful suggestons. Also to Peaches who gave it and the synopsis the once over not once but several times. She also sent the sweetest gift for me to tuck in my suitcase - for the trip. I'm not ashamed to say I almost cried at someone being so thoughtful. It helps a LOT.

Then there's my Scribes group at church who keep encouraging me and telling me I'll be fine. Jean, Becky, Bev, Angie, Margaret and Maria - I appreciate you all so much!

Carol Cartaino and the Highland County Writers - how can I express what I feel for this terrific group of people? You've made writing fun again.

Kitty and Sherry - my oldest friends - who kept telling me I could do it! I almost believe I can.

Linda, Leona, Michelle, all the people in the valley who read my stories --thanks for all the great emails and comments!

To my new critique partners - Diana, Sheri and Nike - we haven't known one another long but I already feel like we are friends. Denver in 09?

Taking a deep breath and going ---- to Minneapolis . . .

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The countdown has begun - only eight days until I leave for Minneapolis.
Today I made a list (in my mind) of everything that has to be done before I leave. Since I'm one of those people who don't like to leave dangling 'to do's' it all has to be done. Things like lots of crits, cleaning my bedroom, shopping, packing, buying a new pair of shoes, going to the dentist - well, you get the picture.
Besides all that there are things that have to be done for the conference. Things like printing all the pertinant emails--bookstore schedule, conference schedule, hotel confirmation number, well--you get the picture!
Then I have to write things called one sheets that are supposed to give an editor or agent an idea of what my book is about - on one sheet of paper. I've done two so far and will work on one for the Jenny books this week. Hey, you never know. Not that any of the editors specified looking for children's books, but I plan to be ready just in case. Since Jenny is the character I love best that should be my best one sheet.
Not that the others are too shabby. I had hoped to find a totally cool, spooky picture for my mystery. Like the one above. It has trees, fog and looks a little eerie to match the ending scene. The only problem is there is no cornfield which figures a lot in the climax. Trust me - a cornfield at night is a truly frightening place. Especially in the pitch dark, no moon, miles from the house when your brother takes off at a run screaming, "Bigfoot!"
But, I did find a couple of pictures to put on the mystery one sheet that I thought were nice. Found them at a totally cool website that has free use photos. Then I stumbled across one that has historical photos. I managed to find several to match the characters in my historical book. So, I'm working on one sheets and trying not to stress.
Truthfully, I just want to go and have fun. There are so many people I want to meet for the first time, lots of new friends I'm looking forward to seeing again and plenty of writing talk to soak up. If something else happens, great. If not, it's been a fun vacation and I got out of a week of work. :)
My thought is that if you go expecting this HUGE, LIFE ALTERING experience and you absolutely HAVE TO SELL THAT BOOK, then you probably miss a lot of the little moments that can make the whole thing memorable. And if one is stressing about it all and you look at it as a make or break conference, a way to validate your whole writing life, then you'll probably be stressed the whole time.
I'd rather have a great time without stress.
Now if I could just stop stressing over my to do list - - - -

Monday, September 01, 2008

It's September

Where did the summer go? Seems like it was just June with long, lazy days stretching ahead. Now the season is sliding headlong into winter and I am not ready. I'm glad fall lasts awhile around here.

Today is September 1st which means another page of "Cookies and Milk." Check out the latest at I wrote a short piece on all the reasons to celebrate September.

This is also Fair Week. All the schools in the county are off for a week. The boys and I spent Saturday decorating cookies and cupcakes. Jarrod got up early today to finish baking chocolate chip cookies to enter in the taste category for Juniors. We don't know yet if they won anything. I'd like to go by the fair later tonight to see if they won any ribbons on their artwork or vegetables. Jarrod and I were up early to take the baked goods and vegetables. Now we get to relax until Wednesday when it's time to take the Flower Show entries.

Well, it's official.

We are homeschooling another year. After exploring a few options, Sister #2 had decided the best choice is to homeschool and go back to Leaves. Leaves has moved to a bigger building so we will earn more for the cleaning. Of course, we will have to do more cleaning but it should be worthwhile. The open house is next weekend and school begins the week I'll leave for Minnesota and the writer's conference.

I'll miss my first class too. That is also official--I'm going to take a class in Fiber Arts and learn to spin wool. That's my start at working on one of my dreams - learning historical sewing skills. Over the past month, I've joined a couple of heirloom sewing sites and scouted out some classes. Not many nearby, but I'm going to keep looking. A six week class might be doable if I could finish before the snowy weather. Also need to network a bit more with people I know who already have master sewing skills.

Am working steadily writing curriculum - rediscovering all I've forgotten about verbs and other parts of speech. Slowly working on other projects. In a sense it feels as if I'm in limbo until after the conference is over. There's still so much to do.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Just a few quick lines tonight. I think I've finally figured out a few more things on here. Added several other blogs - still plenty of room for more. I had some trouble with a couple so will try again tomorrow. Blogger keeps giving me error messages but doesn't tell me why.

Also added a subscription bar so anyone who actually wants to know when I update can do so by email.

Time for the conference is fast approaching. On Thursday, I went out to lunch with Maribeth and Patty. We ended up going shopping for a dress for Patty to wear to her son's wedding and I ended up with my Award Night dress. A somewhat expensive dress but thanks to two great friends, we got it whittled down with discounts and a gift (thanks you two!) until it was quite a manageable price.

Went out tonight with Sister #1 and tried some more clothes. At her suggestion, I tried on some Jaclyn Smith separates-- a tiger print skirt and orangish sweater blouse - um - I don't think so. I couldn't find anything so will go look again this week.

Have to really get cracking this week on writing related work. I find myself in the somewhat enviable situation of being paid to write for an educational website. It's writing and I'm being paid but it's not fiction. Will have to budget my time better this week so I can do both.
Next week is the girl's camp and I haven't a clue where to buy rock salt.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Okay - I finally figured out a few things and have a new blog template. It looks a bit more professional now. Still have to fix a few colors and fonts but it's looking pretty darned good. Especially since I'm the one that had to figure it out. (With lots of help from friends! Thanks, Leona, Sharon, Tiffany, Sheri, Nike and Diana for your expert advice.) It might take me awhile, but eventually this will be a nice place to visit. Maybe I'll even dust the furniture once in awhile. :)

Am still working on spacing, etc. but am slowly getting the hang of it all. Managed to get my blog list where I wanted it on the page today. It always helps to read the "destructions" as my niece, Justi, used to say. Now I am adding blogs and happy to see that the nifty little thingy inside my pc is adding them in alphabetical order. Can't do many at a time as I'm supposed to be working this morning.

Yesterday was a momenteous day! Got a box of books from Gryphon House with my author's copies of The Giant Encyclopedia of Lesson Plans. Had five unit studies/activities in the book. Miah and I went through and found all the ones with my name. It's a great feeling knowing preschoolers will be using MY ideas to learn something about Laura Ingalls Wilder, cowboys, birds, circles and ---hm, forgot the last one! The check will pay for new glasses. Will have to take a photo of the book and post it here.

My new job is working out well so far. It always amazes me that people are willing to PAY me to WRITE.

Back to work -

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Could anyone tell me how to get spacing between my paragraphs in a blog post? I make spaces and even edit, but it all runs together.

Should have a photo of a spider web - cool visual image of cobwebs because it's been a month since I've updated my blog. But, I decided to do another cool picture of an Ohio barn in the sunset.

Life has been super busy with the garden coming in. For awhile, I ate squash and zucchini for every meal because it would NOT STOP GROWING. Now, it's ebbing off a bit. I've canned about ten pints of pickles and four pints of relish. This in direct competition to my dad who has decided NO ONE IN THE WORLD can make pickles like he can. Since he gets up earlier than I do, he beats me to the garden, picks all the cucumbers and rushes back into the house to start making pickles. There is nothing quite like waking up at 7:25 A. M. to the scent of vinegar and dill.
Although I'm not competing, just trying to save the produce from my garden, he considers it a point of pride when his garden does better than mine. Since I benefit from the fact that he likes to weed more than I do, I don't mind his little forays into my side of the garden. :)
I've even noticed that he is watching carefully and copying some of my garden tricks - using old hay to keep out weeds and marigolds to keep away bugs.
Besides gardening, walking, reading and enjoying the summer, I've been writing, of course. My adult mystery is taking shape through lots of planning and outlining. I took a Karen Weisner online course in writing mystery and suspense and it's been super helpful! Another friend sent me a list of college classes (online) for writers and I'm already trying to figure out how to get the fee so I can apply in the fall.
The Cattle Rustling Catastrophe is going through it's final revision after re-writing it five different times. It's almost a completely different book now. I love the story and I love my Jenny character. It's been a struggle at times but I know this is going to be one of the best books I've ever written.
I'm also happy to announce that I got a new job - writing! It's writing one of the things I love - school curriculum and they seem happy with my work. I also got a nice acceptance email for one of my unit studies to appear in an upcoming book on lesson plans for pre-schoolers. They are still in the process of reviewing unit studies in other books so I may sell some of those too. It's not a lot of money, but they sure look great on a resume'.
Also in September, Maribeth, Patty and I will celebrate two whole years of our "Cookies and Milk" page. If you think of it, try to check out on Friday, August 1st. My interview with local vet, Dr. Robert T. Sharp, will appear. Dr. Sharp has also written a wonderful book on being a country veterinarian.
The best news is that I might have an agent! Can't say more yet, but it's very hopeful.
The Highland County Fair is fast approaching and am I ready? LOL! ROFL! I remember one year when I took in all my carefully done needlework, crafts, etc. and the volunteer said, "Isn't this wonderful? You can't do work like this in a week." My sister and I looked at one another and burst out laughing. Usually, I DO work like that in a week - the week before. I take the whole week and craft.
Before long it will be time to head to Minneapolis for the ACFW Conference. It's going to be so much fun! Can't wait to meet all the new friends I'm meeting online. I've made so many committments to meet people, I hope I have time for the workshops! :)
Hope everyone is having a wonderful, relaxing summer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Still Itchy . . .

The rash is going but I'm still itchy. I look pretty silly going out in public because I wear very dark socks (knee high) and long sleeves, if possible. Otherwise, people stare or edge sloooooooooowly away. When I do something, even poison sumac, I do it right. :)

June is the month of Graduations and we've had two. My nephew, Bret, graduated from Southern State Community College. My niece, Heather, graduated from high school and is now happily touring Europe with her Dad and sister, Jenny. I'd envy her except she also has a bad case of poison ivy - a mishap in the woods. Don't ask me to explain more. I figure mine could always be worse, I could have it where she does.

Today is a good day, despite the itches. I finished the ms. for Snipped in the Bud and printed it out! It came out at 99 pages which is three more than I need. Tomorrow, I'll print out the cover letter, gardening tips to include in the book and mailed it off to the contest. It took three months longer than I anticipated, but it is now DONE.

I also got an assignment from a newspaper---I'm suppose to be researching something called, "monk's herb" or "chasteberry." I haven't a clue.

Itch, itch. . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Official - - - I am just too busy. My hopes were that life would settle down once school was out for the summer. I've since come to realize I was only kidding myself. Why is it that I'm even BUSIER than I was when I had to do the carpool thing three days a week?

Tomorrow, I will mail out a Christmas present. Yes, a Christmas present. It's not being mailed early either. It's from LAST Christmas. Today, I mailed out thank you cards for the birthday gifts I recieved in April. That was two months ago! So, if you sent me something and I didn't respond, it's not because I didn't like the gift. In fact, I actually wrote some of the cards earlier. Put cards in my purse, along with my nifty address book and got them ready to go. My problem is that I never bought the stamps. Which is pretty pathetic considering my grocery store sells stamps and I could put letters out in the mailbox in FRONT of the house. Yup, I'm too busy when I can't take care of something as simple as a thank you card.

This has been a "free" week with most of the family gone to Myrtle Beach. I had thought of going, then decided to stay home. One of my main reasons was to finish my children's book, Snipped in the Bud, to send out to the Delacorte/Yearling Prize. Deadline June 30th.

My main concern was that the book wouldn't reach the 96 page mark. It doesn't. Sigh. I'm about twenty-two pages short. Kathi, one of my crit partners had and idea about adding an extra chapter to bring closure. That's one I'm going to try beginning tomorrow. I need to write that last chapter, pad out the pages with some non-fiction pages of "tips" (growing roses, entering contests, etc.) I'd planned to do that anyway but now I'll have to add more pages. Just hope I can finish before the deadline. This is a cute little book with a fun mystery and a great theme - learning to get along with people you don't really like.

Also hope that I can stop itching soon which is a whole different story. On Friday, I did a mulching/weeding job and saw poison sumac. I was oh, so careful NOT to touch it, knowing what could happen. On Saturday, Jarrod and I went back to spread another layer of mulch and I forgot to wear gloves. By Sunday there were two spots on my legs itching like fire ants. By Monday, IT was official. I'm a mess.

Everywhere I have creases, I have bubbles of poison sumac. My arms, my legs. the back of my legs, between my legs. I'm slathered in pinky stuff called IVYREST. It's actually a pretty wonderful cream that I discovered last night. Went to bed with pussy, oozing sores on one arm and it dried them up considerably during the night. Didn't itch or wake up once. Just put on a good coat about two hours ago and sat out on the porch swing until I dried. Well, actually, I STOOD for awhile until the back parts of me dried so I could sit.

Thankfully, I have kept it off my hands and face. I feel icky, but it could by worse. My niece, Heather, was out in the woods last week and used poison ivy in place of tp. She is VERY SORRY and itchy - not a great way to leave for Europe tonight.

Scratching and trying to play catch up. If you haven't heard from me, I'm still here. Just swamped with work, life and buying IVYREST.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Borrowed this from Leona's blog since I'm too lazy to write anything new today.
Thanks Leona!

The Childhood Survey
How far back can you remember your childhood (how old)?:
2 years old---I know this because the memory involves a little pink silk jacket I wore and I outgrew it at 3--also Mom used to tell people no one believed I was so young because I talked so well
Who would you say had the biggest part in raising you?: Mom, Dad traveled most of my childhood
Name 3 of your favorite childhood toys.: Dolls, a little plastic farm set and blocks
What was your favorite Disney movie?:
So many to choose but I adored, "101 Dalmations."
Favorite cartoon?: The Flintstones
Were your parents together for most of your childhood?:
Were you an only child?:
Where did you live at the age of 4? Cincinnati, Ohio--the inner city
Where were you born?:
Cincinnati, Ohio
Do you know how much you weighed at birth?: Six pounds and something
What was your first word?: Dada
How old were you when you took your first steps?: Early
Were you a mama or dady's girl/boy?: Mama's girl

Did you know all of your grandparents?: No, just Mom's
Ever get spanked?: Yes
What elementary school/schools did you attend?: Holy Family, Saint Anne's, Corpus Christi, Pleasant Run Jr. High
Did you ride the bus?: Sometimes

Did you take your lunch to school or eat cafeteria food?: Both
Who was your favorite elementary school teacher?: Mrs. Springer
What kind of names did you have for your grandparents This was always a source of embarrassment to me who wanted a normal grandparently name like Grandma or Grandpa. We called Mom's Dad, Hocty and Mom's Mom, Nin or as the little kids called her, Ninny. Isn't that awful? Grandma decided she was too young to a grandmother so came up with the name of Ninmother. Well, none of us kids could get out that mouthful and it was shortened. Grandpa's name was Hector Stephen and my grandma insisted we call him Hector. Most of the neighbors thought his name was Hoddy. I have no idea why.
How old were your parents when you were born?: 22 and 25
Were you named after anyone?: Yes, the Madonna and my grandmother, Alice
What was your favorite candy?: Good and Plenty
Favorite board/card game?: Clue, Monopoly, Life
Did you have an imaginary friend?: Just characters in my mind
Were you very close with your family, other than immediate?: Yes. Two of my aunts and the cousins were all close.
Who was your best childhood friend?: Kitty McCarthy, of course!
What kind of neighborhood did you live in?: City neighborhood until 2nd grade then in a subdivision in the works
Did you ever go to day care? No, we never heard the word
Ever go to summer camp?: Girl Scout Day camp
Are you still good friends with anyone you grew up with?: Kitty and I are still close.
What did you want to be when you grew up?: A writer
Would you say you were spoiled?:
Can I take the Fifth?
What were you scared of the most as a child?: Dark, night
What's your favorite childhood memory?: Hm, lots of those--moving into our new house and not having to rent, playing with my dolls, summer and being able to read as much as I wanted, finding the Little House books at the library, going for ice cream on summer nights and I guess my absolute favorite was on summer evenings when we'd go to the drive in to see a movie.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Or Maybe Not ----

Well, I thought spring had arrived but now I'm not sure. We actually had frost warnings the other night. Had to rush home and cover my pink and deep rose azaleas. The weather never dipped down low enough to kill or maim any plants, but I'm sure it gave the weatherman lots of exciting news to talk about.

The last few days have wavered between sun and warmth to cold and rainy. Today started out warm and cloudy, went to sun and then back to a cold, damp drizzle. A little while ago I looked out to a glorious sunset. Go figure.

This has been a topsy turvey day in more ways than one. The boys and I got a late start to Leaves this morning. We had to wait for the bank to open so we'd have money for gas. Got on our way in time for their second class, stopped for the gas and then----grrr, grrrr, grrrr. The car wouldn't start. This has been a long month for my current car. It's had the starter replaced twice, died too frequently in unexpected places and been towed home three times. Thankfully, my brother and nephew both own tow trucks. My brother in law happened to notice a part broken in the engine and I had great hopes it could be replaced. Now, we aren't sure. So I may be faced with having to find another used car. I had hoped to have this car last the last weeks of school so who knows? I'm tired of thinking about it tonight. As Scarlett O'Hara was found of saying, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

I'm so looking forward to the summer when I don't have to go anywhere on a regular schedule. (Well, there are always some things but not as regular as school.) The last few months have played havoc with my writing schedule or lack therof. When I look back, I can't point to many things that I've been able to finish completely. That has to change because I have several deadlines coming up.

The student newspaper my Scribes group is sponsoring is nearing the finish line. Tonight I took some of the student's papers and cut out excerpts of reviews for the class play. Helped Miah write his short article on the Knights' club and typed up a review of a field trip. We will have a meeting on Sunday to co-ordinate with the wonderful lady who is going to do all the layout, etc. Two more articles came in by email tonight so it really is coming together. On Sunday I'll have to scurry around to pin down a couple of adults who also promised to write short tidbits for the paper. Next year---the students do their own paper!

With a deadline fast approaching for the Delacorte contest, I need to finish my mid-grade mystery. I'm taking votes on which would be the better title. You can chose from Snipped in the Bud or Summer Snow. This is a gardening mystery for kids and involves the theft of roses. The theme is getting along with someone you really don't like.
I had the idea to maybe do a series (although it's just in the planning stages) called "A Garden of Mysteries," using gardening as a theme to tie in each book.

It also looks like I will be working more on the ms. that finaled in the Genesis contest. Am not allowed to share the title, so please refrain from mentioning it if you comment. It's in the rules that it shouldn't be mentioned in a public formum. Am not sure how public this blog can be---but I want to stay within the rules! :)

Had the thought tonight that quite a few things haven't gone well in my life lately. None that I care to write about. Everyone has problems, some worse than mine. But this evening two of my little great nieces came by (while my nephew towed the car for the third time) and we sat out on the porch. It was windy, drizzly, etc. but their smiles were so sweet. We looked out at the tulips and Stephi asked me who planted them. Before I could answer she said, "I guess God planted them for you. He likes to do stuff like that."

You know, she's right. I know who planted the tulips, but I also know who CREATED tulips. As long as I have God in my corner, it doesn't matter what happens around me. Just the thought is like wrapping up in a warm, cozy quilt. Quite a nice thing to imagine tonight. Hope you have similar assurances of His love tonight.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spring --- It's Official!

This afternoon I took the plastic off my windows. It is now officially spring. This house is so old and drafty that once cold weather sets in, I have to cover the bedroom windows with plastic. Layers and layers of heavy, gloomy plastic that keeps out the cold. It also keeps out the light. Although I'm tempted to rip it off once the crocus' start to bloom, I know better. A few nights with the frigid air of winter's return stealing in the cracks around the windows taught me well. Now I keep it on until I'm sure the temps won't go below 50. Most of the time. We do have freak snowstorms and blizzards. But, today, I choose to be optimistic and rip off the plastic. I also folded up the kid's sleeping bags I use to ram under the closet doors. Since both the closet roof's are THE roof and let in a lot of cold air, I have to use plastic and sleeping bags to block out the cold. Once spring arrives, I gain back the space in both closets.

This morning, the nephews and I participated in our church's second annual Jogathon. The boys each got five sponsors this year. (Each sponsor paid a pre-determined amount per lap.) Miah earned almost thirty dollars for the boy's club and Jarrod came in close at twenty-five. Even I managed to walk---slowly---around the track seven full laps. Probably could have done more but I hurt my back earlier this week and walking was a little painful. Thankfully, it did me good. My knees and back aren't as sore. We went back to the church later for a pizza party.

Several of my many projects are slowly coming together. Our group at church, Scribes, is helping to put together a student newspaper. After weeks of talking and figuring out, finding students to write articles, etc. we are going to have a final meeting on May 4th. By then we should have all the articles, pictures, etc. turned in. So hopefully, that issue should come out sometime in May. HOORAY! This has been a lengthy and often confusing project. My hopes are that once we launch this baby, the students will take over the job next year.

Writing continues on my current mid-grade book, Snipped in the Bud. I'm hoping to get it in final form to send off to the Delacorte Contest for Mid-Grade Books. After that, who knows? I have so many possible books to work on, I'm like the little girl with too many cookie choices. Which to pick? I will probably take part of the summer to revise both my Jenny books. Have had some different critiques done recently (including some very confusing scores in two contests) and feel that I need to re-write parts. Having come this far with Jenny, a character I will always love, I want to make sure I stick with the projects until they sell.

I've had a lot of ups and downs with the Jenny books, but I'm determined to get them into shape. Each book has a good moral theme and I think Jenny learns a lot about life through each title. I even have a third book in mind but no time to begin it. Guess I slowed down some this past fall when I realized that I had almost rewritten the first book over. The endings of the two were too similar. It took weeks of thought before one of the "Cookies and Milk" ladies gave me an idea that prompted what finally worked. So had to rewrite the ending. Twice. Now that I've had very contradictory scores in The Sandy writing contest, I can see where I need to also revise the beginning. This will make about the fifth time. SIGH. . . .

Ah, well, spring is here which means I will be spending lots of time outdoors. Plenty of time to plan revisions as I dig, sow and reap the rewards of my flower garden.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Playing Catch up

It's been so long since I've written anything on this blog that I find myself dreading the idea. There were plenty of opportunities and stories I should have blogged but didn't. I somehow got out of sync with my writing and everything when I took a week off before Easter. My goal then was to clean the house, eliminate clutter and get everything organized so that I could go back to my routine with ease. Instead, I ended up doing the bare minimum of cleaning while eating yogurt to settle tummy troubles. Everything seemed to spin out of control when my brother invited us to eat at Ryan's buffet on Palm Sunday. I think I got some kind of food poisoning or some disgusting something. Thankfully, I never got really ill. Between the cleaning I did a lot of cross stitching and some reading.

Since the holiday, I've been slowly working myself back into a routine. My writing has gone downhill and I'm having to force myself into my old work ethic. It's been hard to feel motivated. But, I'm happy to say I'm getting the flow back.

Today, I actually took the laptop to the library for the first time in over a month. My plan was to work through the whole completed file of "Cattle Rustler." I'd see what worked, what didn't, and ease in the crits from friends. The plan worked fine to a point. I sat down in my hidden cubby, frowned at a teenager who kept coming to see if I'd left (apparently, others like the hidden space too) and set my sights on reading through as much of the ms. as I could in my allotted time. Breezing along, I got through three chapters when I realized that I'd gone as far as I could go. Apparently, I'd copied the smaller file onto my disk instead of the whole book. Darn! Foiled again.
Guess now I've got my Saturday work cut out for me. I'm determined that by the end of April I will have this book in one file and will have written the last chapter. It will go in a completed file and on a disk.
And somehow, despite my best intentions, I've signed up to help judge another writing contest. It's not that I'm bored or anything. I don't have time to be bored. There must be another reason that I keep adding on things before I've finished other things. There's probably a word for that but I'm too tired to look it up.