Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween fun

I know it's not until tomorrow, but I will probably have to work (waiting to hear back from my boss) so the kids and I had fun decorating today. My fifteen year old son stayed after school for a show choir rehearsal so I got to decorate the side of the castle he would have done if he were here.

Here are some pictures of our "Haunted Castle":

The side I decorated: 

HC my side


The side my 9 year old daughter decorated:

HC jillyssa's side


The side my 7 year old daughter decorated:

HC kyra's side


The side my 5 year old son decorated:

HC Jake's side


And here's a picture of the candy pumpkin I "carved" for decorating my side of the castle:

HC closeup pumpkin 

As hard as it is to carve a piece of candy (and believe me, it's hard), it's even harder to get a close up picture of it!

The kids are excited about dressing up and trunk or treating tomorrow evening. My husband's excited about the decorations coming down. I'm excited for NANO to begin! *grin*

I probably won't be able to spend tomorrow typing up my character sketches, so I'm going to try to do it later tonight . . . we'll see if I get to it.

Write on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Preparing for Nano

I finished all the sewing I needed to do. I've been trying to finish up some loose ends at work so I will be finished with my current project and be free to start Nano with no strings attached. Then if I choose not to go back to work in December, I will know I'm not leaving in the middle of a project.

I'm close to being finished and stayed two hours longer today in hopes of having tomorrow and Friday to work on character sketches. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish and will have to go back tomorrow. *frown*

Oh well, I should be able to finish up tomorrow . . . I hope.

Friday will be character sketch day. I've got them worked out in my mind, but want to have them on paper. Also I promised one of my sisters that I'd email her my chapter by chapter outline and I need to do it. But this document is handwritten and I have to type it out to email it to her. I know what you're thinking (no not that!), why can't I scan the handwritten pages into the computer and email them that way? Well, dear reader, I could do that, but I'm not sure she'd be able to read my handwriting. *blush*

My character sketches come first and then I will type out the outline to email to my sis. She loves me and will be patient . . . right, sis?

Now, about Nano . . .

I was all pumped to know November 1st is a Saturday and I believed I'd have all day to write. Boy was I excited. And then the complications began. November 1st is the bridal shower for my soon to be new sister-in-law. It is an hour and a half drive away and begins at 2:00 p.m. *insert whining here* So my first day of Nano writing is shot. The second day of Nano brings my nephew home from college and we're all supposed to get together (another 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive) to celebrate a milestone in his life. On November 14th is my brother's wedding (at noon), luncheon (after ceremony), and reception (from 4-7). Plus, I promised DH I would take down the Halloween decorations on Nov. 1st and put it all back in storage. And to top it all off, I've volunteered to help be an ML for my Nano region! What was I thinking?

I believe it is important to attend the reception and wedding for sure, but am debating about the nephew's event . . . I love him and all,  but gas prices are still on the higher end . . . and I need my writing time. I've been waiting for months to get this story going!

Yeah, maybe I CAN wait a few more days, but I don't want to. *evil grin*

Okay so this is only three days out of my November . . . oh and Thanksgiving makes four, but I'm still getting my whine on cause it makes me feel better and I need the emotional release before Nano. *chuckle*

So what are you doing to prepare for Nano?

Write on.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More sewing, less writing

Spent the weekend sewing dresses for my girls and have now moved on to sewing the Halloween costume for myself. I also start back to work tomorrow so I won't have much time for writing or sewing. Unfortunately, sewing will come first since the costume is needed by the 25th for my Halloween party.

So not much writing will happen this week with the party planning and costume sewing. I'm hoping to get character sketches for my new novel done before Nano starts, but at the rate things are going, I may not be able to. I've got the sketches in my mind, but would like to have them on paper . . . it seems things always change in the process of getting them from mind to paper. What's up with that?

Anyway, I saw some beautiful fall colors on the way home from church today, but didn't have my camera with me. I've got to get the camera in the car so I'll have it when I need it!

Write on.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Revisions on novels and decorating and sewing . . .

. . . these are a few of my favorite things . . . Not really.

Days have come and gone (that's how it works, you know). I've been busy. I revised the beginning of BoBDH, read blogs, and the rest of the week has been spent decorating for Halloween (Wednesday) and sewing dresses for my girls. I will be continuing the dressmaking efforts today. What's the occasion? Um . . . Easter? Yeah, these are the dresses I was supposed to make them for Easter. *blush* I'm a bit behind. DH suggested I wait until this Easter, but the girls want (and need) their new dresses.

After the girls' dresses are done, I need to make a dress for myself (my Easter dress), a Halloween costume for myself (for Halloween, duh), and a stick horse for my nephew (for his Halloween getup). I hope to finish all this today . . . but I may be setting my goals too high . . . that's a lot of sewing to get done. The sewing part goes rather quickly, it's folding the pattern to the correct size and cutting out the fabric that takes the most time.

I also promised the kids we'd assemble and decorate the Halloween "gingerbread" house today. Have I mentioned I'm looking forward to November? No? Well I am! November brings NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and a month of nothing but writing. Oh, and also that other thing during November . . . when you eat so much you want to die. But we will be spending Thanksgiving at the in-laws so I don't anticipate having to cook anything . . . . ha ha ha. Oh I crack myself up. I ALWAYS have to cook the pies when we go to the in-laws, otherwise we don't have any pie. And what's Thanksgiving without pie? Less fattening, sure. Less stressful, sure. But not nearly as delicious.

Now I must to sewing . . . right after I check friends' blogs and do a bit of reading and . . . *grin*

Write on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You and Meme

Today's post comes to you courtesy of dawn_metcalf from LJ.

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, please post a comment with a completely made up and fictional memory of you and me.
It can be anything you want - good or bad - but completely fictional.
When you're finished, post this little paragraph in your blog and see what your friends come up with.

(this is WAY too much fun)

Write on.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why am I here?

I've finished my planned novel revisions . . . for this round anyway. I'm looking over my submission materials to be sure they don't need any revisions, and I'm preparing to begin submitting.

It's kind of frightening.

As I've reached this plateau, I've been thinking about the journey and how I got here. I decided to share.

I've been writing for my own enjoyment (and sometimes by  assignment) since I was in sixth grade. In fact, sixth grade is where it all began.

Here's what happened (as Monk would say):

My sixth grade teacher, Mr. V. gave us an assignment to write a book. I don't remember the details of the assignment, but I vaguely remember the book had to be a certain length and needed to be illustrated.

I don't remember how much time he gave for the assignment, but I do remember I missed the deadline. Mr. V. kept asking me when I was going to turn it in and I kept saying I was working on it . . . which, I was. The book ended up being thirty five, half pages (not thirty five AND a half). I'd say about half of those pages were illustrations so we're looking at about seventeen to eighteen, half pages of text handwritten on those old brown papers with the green lines we used for writing.

The book was titled, "Summer of the Friends" and was a tale of friendship, loss, and more friendship. I can't remember why this particular story was written or what in my life caused it, but I suspect it may have been a friend moving away (I remember a friend moved, but can't remember what grade I was in at the time). The illustrations are even lamer than the text, but to be fair, they are both pretty good for a sixth grader.

Even my teacher thought so. I remember him telling me it was well done and I had some talent when it came to crafting a story. I also remember my grade would have been higher if I had turned it in on time (my first experience with a missed deadline). Now, he may have been being nice, but the spark of the writing flame came to life that day.

I continued to write (but mostly because of assignments) in seventh and eighth grades, including the lame children's story, "Corange the Green Orange," I wrote for the children's book assignment in eighth grade. The story was a "retelling" of the ugly duckling . . . but with oranges, duh. Yeah, did I mention it was lame?

Eighth grade was a pivotal moment in my life. Another assignment was to write and perform a play. My group did a knock off of "A Christmas Carol" but it was about a forgotten homework assignment and what would happen if the main character continued to not do homework. I played the elderly teacher, complete with powdered hair and lines drawn on my face, who had a heart attack when the main character turned in an assignment. My real teacher praised my performance and insisted I enroll in Drama class in high school. I did.

My freshman year of high school prompted me to write my first "novel". It was a pathetic romance and I'm embarrassed to admit I let people read it. The people were my friends and my older sister's friends, and they were terribly kind to me. I never did complete the novel (I still have it around here somewhere) but it was bad, bad, bad. However, writing took a back seat to my new love, acting.

I participated in the high school plays and won many medals and certificates at Speech and Debate tournaments. But don't fear, I didn't give up writing completely, I wrote quite a bit of poetry and entered a poetry and short story contest my junior year of  high school. I placed third for my poem, "Pantomime", and second for my short story, "Shanda". The winning entries along with a few others were printed in a "literary magazine" done by the Graphic Arts department. I'm not sure it counts as being a "published" author, but it felt good to see my work and name in print (though I could have done without the accompanying photograph).

I continued my writing through high school, mostly in poetry--some is good, some is not. My friends went on to college, and I remember attending a writing class with a friend during a visit. The class was instructed to listen to a passage of music and write something inspired from it. The instructor invited me to participate and I wrote a poem entitled, "Rain Dance". After the allotted writing time had passed and everyone was finished writing, the instructor invited us to share our work aloud with the class. My contribution was met with dead silence, as I remember it . . . either that or I blacked out. But the teacher did ask me if I planned to attend the college and suggested I take the class.

I thought I must have been pretty bad and he was offering to help me out, but my friend insists the poem was good and the instructor thought I had talent. I will share the poem with you here and you can judge for yourselves:

Rain Dance

Alone on the stage the dancer stands.

Her dreams are gone, like sand through her hands,

Yet one last dance she will perform,

One last dance before the storm.

The music begins, the first sad strains.

Her dance begins, and now it rains.

Her final dance she knows 'twill be.

A final dance no one shall see.

She dances on, though no one cares.

Her smile of hope she bravely wears.

Her smile fades as on she goes,

And, now, her devastation shows.

At last she realizes all is lost

Her wounded soul now knows the cost.

The music plays on. She leaves the stage,

Struggling to hide her rage.

Just one last look, and then she's gone

But the music still plays on.


I can't remember the piece of music played, but that was my result. I'm not much of a poet, but it was an outlet for my teen angst ridden soul.

I took creative writing courses when I finally decided to attend college, but they weren't much help . . . all I got was help with my punctuation (which still needs help) and stroking of my ego (which frustrated me). I wanted someone to tell me what was wrong with my writing; what I could improve (besides the punctuation). I knew how to craft a story and put it on the page, knew how to create a character and scene (thanks to my acting in high school, college, and community theatre).

I decided to write a children's novel when I was pregnant with my fourth (and final) child. This was way back in 2002-2003 . . .

. . . and here I am about six years later, still working on it. I have written things since . . . a few short stories and a completed rough draft of the sequel to this novel  . . .  but mainly I have concentrated on learning about and working on the craft of writing.

I made a few rash submissions before I was anywhere close to being ready. About seven agents and one editor saw my shameful and embarrassing attempts at the art of querying. *sigh* But I've learned so much since then and have been improving (I'd like to think) over the last several years.

And this brings us to today. I've completed several overhauls and some major revisions on this novel and believe it is finally ready to send out. Whether this particular novel ever gets published, remains to be seen, but it will always have a dear place in my heart because at about 50,000 words, I consider it my first completed novel. And it has been a tremendous learning experience.

Now, I look forward to National Novel Writing Month and a new journey with a new novel and new characters (the past three NaNo experiences have all been sequels) and a possible new and exciting series.

I'm curious, and hope my fellow writers will answer me this:

Why are you here; what events, people, etc. inspired you to become a writer?

Please post your answer (if it's short) in the comments section or on your blog (for longer answers) and link here so I'll be sure to read about it.

Write on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Research, reading, and revisions

The kids had half a day of school and parent teacher conferences yesterday. We found out our young (barely turned five before school started) kindergarten boy is doing better than we (and the teacher) expected. Our first grade girl is doing great and moving up in her reading level. Our third grade daughter is slacking off and we are going to see what we can do to get her more motivated. She still got good grades, but not as good as she could have.

I spent my few hours before picking kids up doing some reading and more research for my NaNo novel. There is another half day today so I will probably do more of the same. I'm hoping to get my revisions completed today. The kids will be on Fall break, so if I don't get it done today, I may not get it done. *wink* And now I must take them to school.

Write on.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Submission and revision

I've completed my submission materials! [insert cheering here]

I now have a query letter, synopsis, cover letter, chapter by chapter synopsis, my map, and paragraph synopses of the other three books in the series. My next step is to complete revisions on the last half of the book and make sure the first half is ready to go with special concentration on the first three chapters.

And I'm completing the last bit of research I need in preparation for my NaNo novel. I've been off work all this week because my arm ached and I wanted to get these submission materials ready to go. I'm off all next week because the kiddies will be on fall break.

I also have a Halloween costume to make, a stick horse to finish for my nephew's costume, and a party to plan for the annual Halloween bash I have with my mother and sisters. I'm hoping I can accomplish all this before I go back to work on the twentieth.

Now back to revisions.


Write on.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Writing off Tuesday

I am writing off work in order to write my submission materials. I still need the chapter by chapter outline, synopsis, and cover letter.

I have a synopsis written, but I need to revise it. I also have the chapter by chapter outline hand written, but I need to type it out. I haven't begun a cover letter. If I knuckle down it shouldn't take me long, but I'm attempting to accomplish the writing between batches of laundry.

I will not be folding or putting the laundry away. It will remain in baskets. When the kiddies get home from school, they will do homework and chores and then they will fold their laundry and put it away. My and hubby's laundry will remain in the basket until I finish the submission items mentioned above. So if I don't want to wear wrinkled clothes, I better get the writing done.

I'm washing the kids' laundry first so I may be finished with the writing before I get to washing my and hubby's laundry. *wink*

On a completely different note, I got a couple of emails I found highly amusing (but it was late at night). I thought I'd post them here.

Here's the first:

Due to the state of the economy these days, the Treasury Department has redesigned the dollar bill :

new dollar bill

Here's the second:

Too much to drink is bad . . . even for a pumpkin.

drinking pumpkins

Write on.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sleepless in Arizona

I thought when my kids were older I'd be able to sleep through the night and foolishly looked forward to those wonderful evenings of relaxation.

And then my mind gave birth to characters. They're worse than babies! At least babies sometimes let you get a couple hours sleep between feedings. Characters keep you up for hours at a time and when you do close your eyes, it's only to have them play out their scenes beneath your eyelids.

I'm not looking forward to work today and hope I can make it through without falling asleep at my desk. On the upside, I've got some new scenes and revision ideas to work with.

Wait, that's the upside? More revision work? Yeah, I must be tired. *grin*

Hopefully I'll enjoy a blissful, dreamless sleep tonight.

I didn't complete any writing this weekend, but I do have a pretty good excuse. Friday, after parking in the driveway at home, my youngest daughter informed me she had "important papers" from school. Now, understand "important papers" are the notes sent home from school and can range from flyers about upcoming events, sport sign-up announcements, or a real note from the teacher. I stepped out of the van (but not away from it), turned to get the papers from her, and the wind slammed the driver's door shut onto my left elbow.

Yeah, it hurt . . . you know just enough to bring me to my knees and make tears pool in my eyes (while trying not to scream and bawl so I wouldn't frighten my kids). I called hubby (he's an EMT) but he wasn't answering his phone. I thought my elbow might be broken as I was unable to move it and it was swelling nicely. Twelve years later, hubby came home.

Okay, it was more like fifteen minutes, but it felt like twelve years. His phone was experiencing technical difficulties. We went to the Urgent Care facility (it's less expensive than the ER) to have my elbow checked. They took x-rays and determined it was NOT broken. While this knowledge was a comfort, it didn't make it hurt any less. They told me it was badly bruised inside and out and would take a couple of weeks to heal.

A couple of weeks? I ignored the panic of not having the use of my left arm for two weeks and nodded. I think hubby must have seen that "writer's look" in my eyes for he piped up, "She does a lot of typing, will she be able to?"

Of course the doctor said I should refrain from typing at least for the weekend. I glared at hubby, smiled sweetly at the doctor and pretended I'd be an obedient patient. Upon arriving home, I took some Motrin and got out my computer. It only took a couple of keystrokes for me to realize I would NOT be able to type with my left hand. Did this stop me?

Well, yes, it sort of did. I still visited blogs, answered emails, visited Verla Kay's, and replied to comments . . . you know small postings where I could use one hand to fly across the keyboard. Well, perhaps fly isn't accurate . . . but it was faster than hunting and pecking by a bit. I'm pretty good with one hand. Anyway, I felt a bit better Saturday, but not enough for long posts. Sunday was more of the same.

Today I feel quite a bit better, though as I'm typing this, I'm feeling twinges of pain now and then. We'll see how it goes at work today . . . if I make it to work today.

Write on.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

NaNo song

As most of you know, NaNo time is almost upon us. For those of you who don't know, check out National Novel Writer's Month. In honor of this wonderful time, here's a little song:

Sing to the tune of Alvin and the Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late"

Oh, Why Do I NaNo?

NaNo, NaNo time is near
Time for stress and time for tears
I've got problems with my plot
Characters don't look so hot
Want a day to celebrate
NaNo deadline sealed my fate
Turkey day will come and go
Oh, why do I NaNo?
Turkey day will come and go
Oh, why do I NaNo?

Write on.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Building a flower arrangement

I decided getting published is like building a beautiful flower arrangement.

The gardener and flowers

A gardener plants the seed, nurtures it, cares for it, and grows it into a beautiful flower. There are many varieties of flowers. Some gardeners concentrate on growing one specific type of flower while others are able to branch out into several types.

Authors are the gardeners of the writing world. The author takes the seed of an idea, develops it, and grows it into a completed manuscript. And then the real work begins. Tending the manuscript.

The author must pull weedy words, cut back overgrown dialogue, and prune nonproductive scenes.

Like flowers, there are many types of manuscripts and not every manuscript is right for every arrangement.

The greenery

Some flower arrangements do better with greenery and some are able to go without. While several varieties of greenery exist, some go better with certain flowers than others. Agents are the greenery of the writing world.

An agent must search through the flowers gardeners send them to find ones they think match them best. Each flower must be smelled to see if it's appealing. To keep their offices from overflowing, many agents ask authors to send a petal as apposed to the entire flower. If the agent likes the scent of the petal, he/she will ask to see a larger sample of the flower, or sometimes the entire flower.

Should the agent decline the petal, or later the entire flower, move on, there are plenty of greeneries out there. Eventually you'll find an agent who thinks your manuscript matches. If not, perhaps you should take another look at your manuscript, it might need more tending. Or perhaps the petal you sent, wasn't the best one off the flower, try another one. If the agent likes what they see an offer is extended to help further prepare your flower to fit into the arrangement.

An agent offers suggestions for further care of your manuscript. Picking off the dead leaves and wilted petals. Maybe even cutting the stem to better fit a certain vase.

Finding the Vase

The flower is ready for the arrangement and the search for the vase is on. Not every vase looks good with every flower. Some vases are too large, others too small, some don't fit well with the shape of the arrangement. Editors and publishing houses are vases. If you have an agent they will know which editors have the best chance of fitting your manuscript. If you're on your own, you may have to do some extra research (much like you did to find an agent). Either way, it's still trial and error.

Once again, samples of the flower must be sent so the editors can choose flowers they think will do well in the flower market.

In the end a beautiful flower either paired with greenery or on it's own winds up in the perfect vase to make an amazing arrangement. Hopefully the arrangement will result in a flower selling well in the market. Bringing in a different kind of greenery.

Write on.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Win a critique and other great prizes

and all for a great cause. Check out the link and help out if you can.

The prizes are great but the cause is greater.

The Mischief Fights Cancer Raffle: Welcome to the Anti-Lymphoma Editorial Raffle